National school walkouts planned on 19th anniversary of Columbine shooting

National school walkouts marked the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting on Friday. 

Students across the country marked the date by walking out of class at 10 a.m. They had a moment of silence for the victims. Students then called on lawmakers to pass gun reform. 

Students of all ages joined the movement. Students from Waite Park Elementary in Northeast Minneapolis joined the national day of action marked by a peace parade. 

“I just think it’s important for every school in every state to participate at least a little bit and to recognize we need to keep our children at the top of our minds and always keep them safe,” said Sarah Lawrence, a parent of a kindergartner. 

The principal pointed out that the emphasis of the parade was peace.

“We have preschool up to 5th grade [students] so we all have a different perspective,” said Rochelle McGinness, the principal at Waite Park Elementary. “Developmentally, we all want to promote peace and positive conflict resolution.” 

Organizers said they did have some pushback from parents questioning the parade, but they believe the positive focus on peace is truly what everyone at every age and level of understanding is striving for. 

Friday afternoon, students gathered on the steps of the Capitol. Some from as far away as Rochester and Stewartville hoped to put pressure on lawmakers for tougher gun legislation. 

“Not even just school shootings, but how common gun violence is,” said Maya Sprenger-Otto, a student organizer. “Minorities and people of color are being shot right and left and nobody does anything. And we really want to bring intersectionality to this rally.”

Organizers said there were more than 2,600 events nationwide. 

Last month, students nationwide walked out of school for 17 minutes to honor the 17 people killed on Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The Columbine massacre and the Parkland shooting were two of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history.