MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Thousands of students across Miami-Dade 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.
In addition to remembering those who died, the nationwide walkouts were also a symbolic call for leaders to enact stricter gun reforms including a ban on assault rifles and high capacity magazines, and for expanding background checks to all gun sales.
Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho took part in the walkout at iPrep Academy where he is the principal.
Approximately 300 students left their classrooms and assembled on the playground where several student speakers addressed the shooting and the need to keep guns out of schools.
“We stand together to show the urgency of the situation and that we’ve had enough. We stand together to proclaim that change is not wanted – it is needed. We stand with MSD to make sure that these tragedies happen never again,” said one student.
“I want to stress the importance of one specific right in our society. Voting. Voting is a great way to become politically involved in our society. By voting, you are making your voice heard and you are registering your opinion on how the government should operate. Representatives are supposed to represent the people and it is crucial that we elect the right people to help support our cause. We cannot elect people who sit idly by and force parents to suffer, parents who will never be able to see their children again. We must elect people who will support our cause,” said another student.
At Coral Reef High in southwest Miami-Dade, students left their classrooms and formed a heart on the school’s football field and observed 17 minutes of silence.
Most of the students wore orange shirts. They were encouraged to do so on social media as a representation of the hashtag #Enough which was advocated by the Women’s Youth March which has supported student issues in the past.
The school’s principal got up on a ladder before the silent observance to tell the students they were all special and they were all leaders in the community.
Watching from the sidelines was Steffi Kordy who has two boys at the school – a freshman and a senior.
“This shooting was very close to my heart because it could have happened to them. They could have been the victims, or any of their friends, so that’s why I am out here, hopefully, it will never happen again to anybody. We need sensible gun control and definitely not have any guns in schools at all,” she said.
“This is their future this is what they are fighting for of course every one of us could be involved, but really it’s the kids I’m very proud of the kids up there in parkland they do such a good job,” she added.
At Gulliver Prep in Pinecrest, students walked out of their classrooms and went to the Sean Taylor Memorial football field, named for the Gulliver grad and NFL star who was shot and killed in Palmetto Bay home during a botched burglary.
The students formed the letters MSD and a heart on the field, vowing the legacy of the those who died at Douglas High will be vibrant.
“Our actions can eventually make a huge difference, and the kids of Douglas High School have shown us that,” said student body president Nikki Hurtado.
Those taking part in the walkout talked of strength in numbers, of a new mindset about guns.
“We must act as a community, rejecting the acts of cowardly violence that have so troubled our nation,” said student body vice president Fiona Hanley.
“It might be cliché to say that every individual can create change, but it is nonetheless true. Regardless of age, it is nonetheless true,” said student class president Isabella Martinez.
Many of Gulliver’s seniors are of age, voting age, and have vowed to shape a new beginning, starting with the elections in November.
“As the future generation, as the people who will be in places of power, we have to take up this responsibility at this age,” said Martinez.