A national school walkout protesting gun violence took place in cities and suburbs around the United States early Wednesday.
Schools in the Philadelphia region were no exception — students are making their voices heard one month after a gunman opened fire on his classmates at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., killing 17 and sparking a nationwide movement calling for legislative action.
The calls were first sparked by the shooting survivors at Marjory Stoneman, but inspired many around the country. Students and faculty pledged to leave their classrooms for 17 minutes beginning at 10 a.m. Wednesday, a minute for each person killed last month.
While the movement has sparked a debate on a "disconnect" between city and suburban schools, hundreds of high schoolers still participated, taking to social media to share some of their experiences.
Students at Cherry Hill High West organized signs like "Fear Has No Place in Our School" and "Unite 4 Parkland" to hold up during the walkout, which started shortly after 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.
"Finished the walkout but this is only the beginning," a Twitter account documenting the protest at the school reported.
The signs seen in Cherry Hill demanding change were prevalent at walkouts around the region. Students who gathered at Temple University's Bell Tower as part of the group Philly Students Demand Action held flyers marked #enough. Students from Science Leadership Academy voiced "That Could've Been Us" during their rally in Center City, where Councilman Kenyatta Johnson also spoke.
Walkout participants at Penn Alexander School on 42nd and Spruce Streets formed a human "peace" sign to voice their message, while a large group gather at the School District of Philadelphia's headquarters along Broad Street Wednesday afternoon before marching to City Hall.
"I honestly don't know what I'm more afraid of, if there could occur another school shooting or knowing that my teachers might be armed in school," said Cindy Perez-Nieto, a Science Leadership Academy student and youth leader at Juntos, a nonprofit fighting for the rights of immigrants, at City Hall. "As a student, I believe that arming our teachers is not the right solution."
Abington Senior and Junior High School students shared a powerful video Wednesday called Rise Up that encouraged peers to "be the change."