South Florida Schools Take Part in Nationwide Walkout on Anniversary of Parkland Tragedy

Dozens of schools in both Miami-Dade and Broward counties, including Stoneman Douglas, are taking part in the Nation School Walkout

What to Know

  • Dozens of schools in both Miami-Dade and Broward counties, including Douglas, are taking part in the Nation School Walkout.
  • Superintendents from both counties have supported the planned walkouts.

One month after a former student opened fire inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School – killing 17 students and staff and rattling the entire Parkland community – thousands of students, staff and administrators joined in a nationwide walkout aimed at protesting what some call inaction on gun law reforms.

Dozens of schools in both Miami-Dade and Broward counties, including Douglas, took part in Wednesday's Nation School Walkout – an event sponsored by the Women’s March’s Youth EMPOWER group who have gotten thousands of schools across the county to participate.

“You know what? We are fighting not just for those who are no longer here but for those who might come next because I can't deal with the idea that other people might be next," Stoneman Douglas student Leonora Munoz said.

The walkouts began 10 a.m. and lasted about 17 minutes to commemorate those who lost their lives.

Students from Stoneman Douglas gathered on the school's football field where they shouted "MSD! MSD!" and engaged in a group hug.

"I jumped the fence because I want to make a difference, I want to make a change, I want something else to change, I want more laws to be implemented, I just want stuff to change because nothing's changing right now," Stoneman student Zach Gordon said.

“The statement is we will no longer stand for this, we will no longer be pushed down, just pushed into a cupboard to wait til we're all 18 to say something," student Nicole Weisselberg said.

Supporters also attended the symbolic ceremony at Stoneman Douglas, which included the entire 3,300 student body.

"We're mourning her death every minute of every day and it is so horrible to have to deal with this, I beg you to stand up with these kids and fight with us to get this gun legislation in the country changed," said Gina Fontana, the aunt of Stoneman victim Cara Loughran.

Superintendents from both counties have supported the planned walkouts – with Broward schools leader Dr. Robert Runcie notifying parents that staff will not interfere with peaceful protests, calling events like this “teachable moments”.

Miami-Dade Schools superintendent Alberto Carvalho attended a ceremony at iPrep Academy, joining students and teachers in a moment of silence before addressing the crowd.

"This is the equivalent of kids crying out and saying 'save me, respect me, ensure that I can live to see another day by doing everything right is done by me' and they are a forceful voice that cannot be ignored," Carvalho said.

At the Nova Southeastern University School in Davie, students took things a step further by walking 17 miles to Stoneman Douglas Wednesday.

"I think it’s really important because we continue to see things like this happen time and time again and it kind of like creates the question of when is it enough," student organizer Thalia Perez said. "So I think at this point we’ve kind of all had enough as like a student body. As a community."

"Our main message is that this can never happen again. It’s happened so many times, Sandy Hook six years ago wasn’t enough for change to happen...those kids were to small to advocate for themselves but we aren’t," junior Joy Marie said.

The walkout comes 10 days before hundreds of thousands of people are expected to take part in the March For Our Lives event scheduled for March 24th in Washington D.C. – with satellite events scheduled across the country, including one scheduled for Parkland to honor the 17 lives lost.

Wednesday afternoon, the man charged with committing the tragic shooting, former Douglas High student Nikolas Cruz, was back in a Broward County courtroom for a second arraignment in less than a week.

A grand jury indicted the 19-year-old last week on 34 counts, 17 of premeditated first degree murder and 17 of attempted first degree murder. Prosecutors announced Tuesday that they would seek the death penalty in the case – after Cruz’s attorneys said he would plead guilty if the death penalty was taken off the table.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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