At least a thousand students in Florida staged an impromptu walk out of their classes shortly after they came together for a moment of silence on Tuesday morning in an attempt to make sense of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
A 19-year-old former Stoneman student, Nikolas Cruz, opened fire on the students and teachers at the Parkland school, claiming 17 lives. The massacre was the 18th such school shooting in the United States in 2018.
Reports state that hundreds of students had assimilated in a Florida school — West Boca High — to pay their respects, around the same time the funeral of one of the victims was set to begin and Stoneman students were prepping for a lobbying march to Tallahassee.
The Boca High students were eventually ordered to go back to their classes by the principal. Although some of them listened, the others, nearly a thousand of them, reportedly sprinted past their teachers and police entrance and poured through the school's entrance out into the street.
The students marched, ran and even hitched rides to reach Parkland, almost 12 miles from Boca High, to pay their respects to the victims of the massacre and to protest gun violence in the country, according to Miami Herald reports.
A 16-year-old sophomore student from West Boca, Lauren Smith, said that the walkout began after a few students stood on tables and started chanting. Reports state that many of them came together and sprinted through a barricade of assistant principals at around 10 am and many of their classmates followed suit.
"Most of us got zeros on quizzes today,” Smith told Miami Herald. "I don’t think we should have to do that to make a change, but we do. And it’s important that we do."
The Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies reportedly maintained order on the roads while more students poured in at the Stoneman Douglas High school. Reports state that there were volunteers also among the crowd who brought in water and snacks for people marching towards the shooting site.
One of the students in the crowd, a 14-year-old freshman originally from Venezuela, Tomas Segnini, said that although he was tired, he was also happy that the students were taking some initiative.
He also slammed the gun laws in the country while marveling how school shootings continue to occur in the country year after year.
"I hope this never happens again," Segnini said. "This is the only country where this happens."
The principal of West Boca High, Craig Sommer, who initially yelled at the students to return to their classes eventually relented and said: "This is history," and expressed his support for the students.
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