Local students participate in National School Walkout on Friday - KCTV5 News

Local students participate in National School Walkout on Friday

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Students at Shawnee Mission North participate in the walkout. (Submitted to KCTV) Students at Shawnee Mission North participate in the walkout. (Submitted to KCTV)

Locally and across the country on Friday, students walked out in memory of the people killed 19 years ago in the shooting at Columbine.

The mood was somber but purposeful. 

Hyde Park was one of several meeting spots for students on Friday. There were speeches from elected officials, community leaders, and from students who demanded their voices be heard and that change happens.

While the organizers of Friday’s rally may only be eligible to vote this year, they’re making it clear that they want to see change happen.

“I think this is a problem that affects everybody and that's why it affects students,” said Jay Mehta with Pembroke Hill. “So, I think the whole national conversation about background checks, bump stocks, assault weapons and all those things apply to school shootings just like they apply to shootings in nightclubs and concerts.”

"We might be an apathetic-looking generation -- not anymore," said Mehta.

Throughout the park, with signs that demanded elected officials consider children's lives over campaign funds, students were saying “enough is enough.”

Students also emphasized that today wasn’t a rally to demand that guns be taken away, but a rally to echo the cry heard around the country for common sense gun control.

Jancyn Appel, also with Pembroke Hill, said, “This isn't a Republican issue. This isn't a Democrat issue. This is about keeping our kids safe, keeping us safe, and letting us go to school, you know?”

In addition to the rally addressing gun reform, the other big effort was to make sure students who are eligible to be registered to vote will be ready to do so.

"I think what a lot of people forget is that we can vote in August," Appel said. "Half our grade is going to be eligible to vote in August and, even though we're kids and legal minors and juniors, half of the crowd here is able to register to vote today and those people will be voting in November."

Other students in the area participated as well. 

“I am told no one wants to hear my opinion because I have not lived long enough, have not experienced enough,” said Danielle Foster with Lincoln Prep. “Well, can someone tell me when will it be enough?”

“Being able to be here, seeing people from other schools, people from our school,” said Mercedes McGonigle with Parkhill South. “It's very inspiring because it makes you feel like you've made a difference and you have a voice, which therefore spurs you on to make more change in the future.”

Nearly two dozen students from Grain Valley High School participated in the walkout with parental permission around 10 a.m., according to that school district. 

Students at the event said that they consider it a success and that they look forward to continuing the conversation in the months and years to come.

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