WASHINGTON, D.C. — Thousands of students walked out of their high schools today in the Washington D.C. area. Students first walked out of their high schools, marched towards the nearest metro stops, rallied at the White House, and then finished their protest at the United States Capitol.
“I protested today because I know there are a lot of students, children, and people who feel unsafe in their school,” said Honor Kalala, 17, a senior at Montgomery Blair High School and one of the student leaders today. “It’s not only about kids in school; it’s about people on the street. I’m just not okay with it!” she said.
Kalala says the NRA needs to watch out and ” I think people are going to realize real soon their money (NRA) isn’t worth it.”
Kalala said she would walk out again but is fearful because she says her absence is unexcused. Since she is a member of her school’s lacrosse team, she may not be able to play in her school’s game tomorrow.
“I can’t go to practice today and I might not play tomorrow, but you know I think it’s worth it,” she said. While at the White House, all of the students observed 17 minutes of silence, one minute for each student’s life lost during the Valentine’s Day Massacre in Parkland Florida.
“It was just extraordinary to see so many young people make sacrifices to get down here and demonstrate on things they care deeply about,” said Michael Place, 18, senior at St. Johns High School in D.C. “I really want to let the NRA know you make our country less safe and I’m not going to tolerate that anymore.”
As the students gathered in front of the Capitol, some spoke directly to the crowd, representing not only their high schools but their beliefs as citizens.
“I didn’t do this for me, I did it for the Latino community and for everyone out there that feels like they don’t have a voice,” said Emily Dohler Rodas, 17, a senior at Albert Einstein High School and another student leader of the rally. “I was so nervous, but when I saw my peers speaking and how much confidence they had, and how much support we were getting from the congressmen, it just gave me this newfound confidence.”
“When I looked into the faces of my peers,” Rodas added, “I knew they needed to hear this, it was game time!”
Parents also were present during the rally and said they were honored to be in the presence of “our future leaders”.
“I’m very, very proud and emotional, I came from another country and I am so happy for my daughter and her friends, I would let her walk out again and I would walk out with her,” said Anabella Rodas, 53, mother of Emily. “We need stricter laws, we need more stricter ways of getting guns. Not everyone should be allowed access to guns, they are too easy to get.”
As the children continue to rally and several speakers spoke , Sentor Bernie Sanders made a quick but heartfelt appearance. “I just want to thank all of you for your courage and your intelligence, and for leading the nation in the right direction,” he said.