Thousands of people march to Liberty Plaza during the March For Our Lives rally in downtown Atlanta on Saturday, March 24, 2018. Atlanta police estimated the crowd at near 30,000 for that March for Our Lives. Projections for participation in students events on April 20, the anniversary of the Columbine school shooting, are lower. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Student events, walkouts to be smaller than month ago

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.

The purpose of last month’s walkout was to remember 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. This event — 19 years to the day after two students waged a war inside Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., that left 15 dead — is to continue the momentum and show students where they can use their voices.

“All of this is about students,” said Lakeside High senior Sawyer Wolf, “and I think that’s why people finally are starting to … feel they have a place in the conversation.”

Projected participation across metro Atlanta for the second school walkout in about five weeks appears to fall sharply from the protest on March 14, where more than 100,000 students walked out of class to remember the Florida shooting victims, among other activities.

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.

“Our top priority remains supporting the academic and social emotional needs of our students while maintaining a safe and orderly environment for all students and staff,” the district said in a statement.

Students who led March 14 walkouts at several Cobb County high schools said there aren’t organized plans to repeat the demonstrations today, partly due to repercussions students faced for participating in the first walkout. Some Cobb students have been working to organize town halls to discuss gun control. At Pope High School, students plan to meet before school to hold a memorial for victims of the Columbine shooting.

Cobb County School District penalized participants of last month’s walkout more harshly than most metro Atlanta school systems. Students who walked out received a one-day in-school suspension.

Many area districts had nothing planned to commemorate the Columbine anniversary.

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.

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.

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