Students from around the Valley are expected to take part in a national walkout to protest gun violence Friday.
Grace Brennan, a Woodland Hills junior who is involved in coordinating speakers, said she hopes that partnering with Students for Change will help the Mt. Lebanon community become more aware of how young people in other parts of the Pittsburgh area are impacted by gun violence. Leon County Schools is supporting its students' right to protest.
The group's founder, 16-year-old sophomore Lane Murdock, who attends Ridgefield High School in CT, says her organization has been in touch with friends and family of the Columbine community, saying "we've been having a dialogue with them".
Ryan Deitsch, 18, a Stoneman Douglas High senior, who is among the #NeverAgain student activists at the Parkland school, said he's glad to see demonstrations for sensible gun laws continue - independent of his group's organizing.
While participating, students at both schools were closely and carefully supervised. The National School Walkout will take place at 10 a.m. In March, the Davis district advised students that they would be marked absent if they left class to participate in on-campus demonstrations - a stance that drew considerable criticism during a Davis school board meeting on April 5.
"I've been trying my best to encourage kids to do this, because I think some of them just feel like they are so far away from the issue because we're in small-town Pella, Iowa, that nothing could happen like that here", she says. The goal is to give students a platform to share and discuss their ideas for improving school safety, Begor said. Community and police-driven gun violence hit hard for teens in urban areas, many of whom have lost family members, friends, or classmates to shootings.
"We fully support student voice, however it must be done in a way that is safe and doesn't negatively impact education", the principals said in their call.
On the Midtown KC Rally Facebook page, organizers urged that students planning to come to the rally "get absence forms (or the equivalent) from your school in order to attend the rally without being truant".
Local students are preparing for a peaceful protest Thursday. Others said they will participate in activities organized by the school to honor the victims of the Colorado high school shooting that killed 12 students and one teacher in 1999. Although Stoneman Douglas has already held its annual voter registration drive, Thompson said in his message that students will be able to register to vote before school and during lunchtime.