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FT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Thousands of students across Broward took part in a nationwide walkout Wednesday to mark the one month anniversary of the deadly mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland.
The Valentine’s Day shooting claimed the lives of 14 students and three teachers.
For Wednesday’s walkouts, students were asked to leave their classrooms for 17 minutes, one minute for each person who died.
At many schools, moments of silence were held to remember those killed.
In addition to remembering those who died, students who took part in the walkouts used it a symbolic push for additional gun control measures to make schools safer.
At Coral Springs High, just miles away from Stoneman Douglas High, students walked out of their classrooms onto the football field where they were asked to sign a petition for stricter gun laws.
Sandy Short, whose daughters go to Coral Springs High, took part in the student walkout as a show of support.
“I didn’t think about school shootings before, I think it’s horrific that they have to deal with things like that,” she said.
The students made a loop around the football field and then stood for a moment of silence to remember those who died.
Anthony Jordan’s brother is a senior at Coral Springs High. He said he hopes students there and nationwide can keep the momentum going for a real change.
At Cooper City High, students who walked out brought with them 14 empty desks and three lecterns to represent the 17 who died. They arranged the desks and lecterns in a circle in a courtyard and released 17 white doves as part of a remembrance ceremony.
Approximately 60 students from Ft. Lauderdale High and Stranahan High left their campuses and rallied for gun control outside the Kathleen C. Wright Administration Building in downtown Ft. Lauderdale where the county’s School Board was meeting.
“We are the next generation and if the adults can’t pick up and clean up what they started, we’re going to have to fix it for them. That’s what we’ll need to do,” said student Riley Hardacher.
So what kind of a fix would the students like to see?
“We do not want teachers to be armed with guns, that’s not gun control, that’s just the opposite, that’s giving more people more guns to civilians. We want bump stocks to be changed, we don’t want weapons of death, the instruments of death, like war rifles, semi-automatic weapons, to be easily obtained by a regular human being,” she said.
“Today students across the nation have clearly made their voices heard. They are working to transform their anger, grief, and concerns over the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School tragedy into something positive, into a wave of activism, and calling for a change in this nation,” said Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie.
Runcie said as a father of three daughters, and superintendent of the district, he was extremely proud of the students’ actions.
“Their efforts so far have brought about change in the state of Florida that several weeks ago we never would have thought was possible. We saw that materialize in Senate bill 726 which puts some restrictions on access to guns, provided resources for improving school safety and security, and greater investment in mental health services across our school districts.”
At Cypress Bay High in Weston, students filed into the campus courtyard. Some held signs, some wore shirts with messages, all of them affected by what has been a difficult month.
“The thing that scares me the most about this is that Stoneman Douglas and Cypress Bay are very similar in layout, in student size, and in population. It could have been us. It could have been anyone,” said student government president Harrison Miller.
“We should come to school to feel safe. Not to be worried about watching your back or watching who comes on campus. That’s not how high school should be. That’s not how any school should be,” said Nicholas Figueroa, a senior and member of the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC).
Since the massacre at Stoneman Douglas, Cypress Bay students say they’ve seen such increased security, to many it’s unnerving
“I get it. It’s weird, it’s different. It never hit as close to home,” said Homero Aregio.
As the students released 17 balloons, they spoke about how they cannot forget, that the nation must not forget, about what happened.
They say Stoneman Douglas cannot end up being just another chapter in school shootings.
“I hope that people keep talking about this. That people keep pushing more legislation and reform. I just hope we can finally have an impact,” said Aregio.
Miller told his fellow students speaking up is not enough.
“We cannot prevent any of this. No matter how hard we try we cannot prevent. Because there are still individuals out there who do not think like us. Who do not act the way we do. But instead of demanding change we need to be the change. We need to go out there and vote,” said Miller.
Miller added that next week is voter registration at the school and if politicians won’t make the change, the kids there plan to make a change.