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Marjory Stoneman Douglas Students Walk Out In Protest 1 Month After Deadly Shooting

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Throughout the program today, we're hearing voices of students around the country who walked out of class to remember victims of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting one month ago. In a few minutes, we'll hear about the impact of student protests throughout history. First, Rowan Moore Gerety reports from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where that shooting happened.

ROWAN MOORE GERETY, BYLINE: Tenth grader Liam Kiernan began his day the same way he has each morning since he's been back at school - stopping at the roadside memorial to say a few words to his friend Gina Montalto, who was killed in the shooting.

LIAM KIERNAN: As long as I still remember her, she's not completely gone. You know, I don't want people to know her as somebody that was shot. I want people to know her as the beautiful and amazing person that she was.

MAX ROJAS: You guys rock.

GERETY: Today, Kiernan and almost every other student got a high five and words of encouragement from Pastor Max Rojas on their way into school.

ROJAS: Today's going to be exciting, man.

LIAM: Yeah. We're getting the whole world with us.

ROJAS: Yeah.

LIAM: And I can't wait for...

ROJAS: You're going to change the world.

LIAM: That's what I really hope to.

ROJAS: You going to. You're going to.

GERETY: Then at 10 a.m., Douglas High's 3,000 students streamed out onto the football field.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Good morning, Eagles. Good morning.

GERETY: That's where the school hoped to keep the walkout contained - a 17-minute remembrance for the 17 victims. Suddenly hundreds of whooping middle schoolers came into view...

UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN: (Whooping).

GERETY: ...Taking over the street as they headed for Douglas High.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: What are they going to do, stop 1,500 kids?

GERETY: Eighth grader Alexis Deveaux says Westglades Middle School was in the middle of its own on-campus walkout when two students decided to take to the streets.

ALEXIS DEVEAUX: And everyone started following them. And I think we all got suspended. But it's worth it 'cause I feel like they went to school thinking they were safe. And that horrific day was terrible.

GERETY: The younger students' chants gave their older peers a jolt. Soon a crowd from both schools took off for a rally in a nearby park.

NICHOLAS HERNANDEZ: I think we just decided that standing outside for 17 minutes in our school wasn't enough.

GERETY: Ninth grader Nicholas Hernandez was near the back of a line of students that stretched out for a mile.

NICHOLAS: No one needs an AR-15 unless you are in the military. That is not a weapon for hunting. That is a weapon of war.

GERETY: One of his classmates ran alongside the crowd, carrying a sign. It said, when leaders act like kids and kids act like leaders, we need change. For NPR News, I'm Rowan Moore Gerety in Parkland. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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