Parkland survivors to attend vigil marking 19th anniversary of Columbine shooting

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The National School Walkout website says almost 2,500 walkouts are planned across the country on Friday, mostly at high schools but at some middle schools and colleges, including the University of Cambridge in Britain.

It will also follow hundreds of "March For Our Lives" rallies in cities across the United States on March 24 that were some of the biggest US youth demonstrations for decades, with hundreds of thousands of young Americans and their supporters taking to the streets to demand tighter gun laws.

"Every other day can be a day to push for change", said Tyner, who wishes organizers of the national walkout had reached out to the Columbine community first.

In a letter to other high schools in its suburban Denver district earlier last week, current Columbine principal Scott Christy and the principal at the time of the massacre, Frank DeAngelis, suggested students join their tradition rather than participating in a walkout, noting that April "has always been a time to respectfully remember our loss".

He and about 400 other students left class and went to the gym, where they stood silently for 17 minutes to honor each victim of the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

The walkouts will take place at 10 a.m. on Friday.

AP  Sydney Schaefer
AP Sydney Schaefer

AISD students who choose to participate will receive an unexcused absence for classes missed. "Student walkouts, however, disrupt the school environment, interfere with student learning, and create unique safety risks for students and staff". There have been 33 school shootings in California since Columbine, resulting in 51 deaths and 136 injuries.

The fears differ by gender as well: 64 percent of girls say they are very or somewhat anxious about a shooting happening at their school, compared with 51 percent of boys.

The survey also found 86 percent of teens say preventing people with mental illnesses from purchasing guns would be very effective or somewhat effective. It wasn't until 20 children were killed in Newton, Conn., in 2012 that he and his peers got involved in debates over gun laws.

"All of our principals have plans based on the interests of their students", Wait said, noting that students organized the event and will lead activities ranging from silent observations to speeches and poster contests.

Friday's national walk out is set to begin at 9:50 a.m. Ho-Shing will be speaking to the Illinois Education Association at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare.

Just this year, DeAngelis has been in touch with the leaders of high schools in Kentucky, Maryland and Florida, all where students were gunned down.

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Since the shooting, students from the Parkland, Florida, school anchored a massive rally against gun violence in Washington on March 24, and throngs of young people took part in sister marches around the country.

"Sometimes it feels like our world is so divided, that we wanted this to be a time where we could all come together and say enough is enough-we shouldn't have to worry about our survival, we should be worrying about our school work", he says.

Before the Thursday rally, the students will meet with survivors from the Columbine school shooting to talk about how they healed in the weeks, months and years after 12 students and one teacher were killed by two gunmen.

On March 14, hundreds of thousands of students across the United States walked out to protest gun violence.

"We want to make sure that we're supportive, but we also want to make sure we have some processes and procedures in place", said Hopson. Hogg tweeted Monday that demonstrators should join the Columbine community in acts of community service after the walkout.

More than 150 member chapters have formed around the country.

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"We're not sponsoring it; we're supporting it, and there's a fine line there", Miller said. "There's a time for protest, but it's not that day".

Scott County High and Elkhorn Crossing students will be participating in the National School Walkout Friday to mark the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting that is viewed as the beginning of a period of school shootings.

Instead, he said, they prefer to use the day for remembrance.

"As I ran out of my office, my worst nightmare became a reality", DeAngelis said. "It's a very hard day for our whole community".

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