UPDATES (2:30 p.m.):
Students and elected officials stood before several hundred Lakeside High School students just after 10 a.m., mostly sending praise for students using their voices on issues that affect them. The work should not stop there, they said.
Sally Harrell, a candidate for the Georgia House of Representatives, recalled a rainy day two years ago when she was driving her daughter to Lakeside for class.
“She said, ‘Nobody looks out for teenagers,’” Harrell told those assembled. “I can’t get it out of my head. I knew she was right, and I knew I wanted to help fix it.”
Students evoked the names of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Stephon Clark, young black men killed in recent years in incidents that have sparked conversations about a disparate number of black men killed by police .
“We as people of color have these actions normalized in our lives,” student Najah Alwakeel said to raucous applause. “Slavery and segregation are over, yet everyday I head a new news story about someone being hurt or killed for simply being black.”
The order was more straightforward at Tucker High School, where students assembled on the school's track before marching to the front of the school. Students carried signs with subtle messages — "We are the voices in the silence" and "Thoughts and prayers are not bulletproof" among them — as teens nationally speak up on issues of gun reform and school safety.
"No more silence ... and gun violence," they chanted as passing cars blew their horns in solidarity to the more than 300 assembled.
About three dozen students broke away from the group, taking off down Main Street with their signs held high, breaking from rules set up as students and school administrators decided guidelines for their protests.
ORIGINAL STORY BELOW:
Students across the U.S. have been called out by some to walk out of classes again, as they did last month, over school shootings.
Today is the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting that defined the age of school shootings with a senseless act ending in a high body count.
And the news of the morning opened with a grim reminder of how critical the issue is as deputies in Florida were rushing to Forest High School in Ocala, where the wounding of a single person was reported.
Last month, students across the country, including many in metro Atlanta, walked out of classes and later marched in cities for strengthening gun laws and to protest gun violence. It was sparked by the 17 students and staff members killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., when a former student opened fire in the school Valentines Day.
Not as many students are expected to walk out of classes today, and many schools and students are leading or will participate in school sanctioned or after-school activities to memorialize the date.
At Atlanta Public Schools, Inman Middle School students who organized a walkout last month announced on social media that they would not be walking out today. Instead, they urged students to wear orange — the color associated with gun-violence activism.
At Lakeside High School this morning, student activities for a national walkout will center around ways young people can continue having their voice heard, from registering to vote to engaging in conversations on continued activism.
Tucker High School also has a full day’s events planned, organizers said. The activities in DeKalb were planned with guidance from school administrations, and supported by district leadership.
Some students plan to rally outside the Georgia State Capitol before attending a town hall to discuss gun violence and school safety at 7 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 105 Courtland St. NE. The town hall is hosted by Georgia Students for Change.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution will be there and bring you reports of student activities throughout the day.
Read what a Georgia teacher has to say about protesting students in Maureen Downey’s Get Schooled blog.
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