PARKLAND (CBSMiami) – Friday marks the 19th anniversary of the school shooting at Columbine High School where 12 students and 1 teacher died in the attack.
The memory of that tragic event is why students from more than 2500 schools are expected to take part in National School Walkout Day.
Melissa Falkowski teaches journalism at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School — a community still reeling from the deaths of 17 people on campus on February 14.
She said the goal of the Walkout and National Day of Action against Gun Violence in Schools is to keep efforts to improve school safety and legislate common sense gun control front and center.
“The students are trying to stand up for what they believe in,” said Falkowski. “The fear is that if there aren’t all these events that continue to happen what’s going to keep this issue in the news? We don’t want the next thing that brings it back into the news another school shooting.”
Falkowski will be leading a group of teachers who will picket outside Stoneman Douglas Friday.
They’re concerned that money used to fund a state bill to better protect schools, increase mental health funding and keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill will harm overall education funding.
“That money is coming out of a lot of the funds that already existed for education and that leaves us short for other resources for things like teacher raises, supplies and books and technology and things like that,” she said.
Last month, on the one month anniversary of the shooting at Stoneman Douglas, students across the country left school to remember victims of school violence and to rally for greater gun control measures. On Friday there will be walkouts at schools across South Florida.
Falkowski believes this cause goes beyond keeping our schools safe.
“It can’t just be looked at as a school safety issue,” she said. “There are definitely measures that can be taken to protect our schools but we have to look at it as a societal issue and what we’re going to do to solve this problem in society at large.”
The National Walkout organizers say their goals are for students to have a moment of silence, speak up about the gun control issue and contact their legislators to demand action.
Some students are expected to participate in service projects. Melissa Falkowski says she’ll organize a voter registration effort.