Chanting for gun-law reform and reduced firearm violence, an estimated 2,000-plus students marched to City Hall Friday morning as part of nationwide school walkouts.
The Houston Youth Walkout, believed to be the largest local out-of-class gathering to mark the April 20 protests, attracted students from across the region for a 1.2-mile march. They joined thousands of students from Greater Houston who demonstrated at their schools Friday morning, advocating for changes to gun laws and honoring victims of gun violence.
"To see so many students from different high schools come together brought tears to my eyes," said Elena Margolin, a march organizer and senior at Houston ISD’s High School For The Performing And Visual Arts. "We realize we’re all in it together and all fighting for the same cause."
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Students from classrooms around the D.C. area – and across the country – held walkouts and school demonstrations against gun violence on Wednesday.
School districts across the area prepared for demonstrations Friday, with many campus principals coordinating plans with students. They sought to balance free-speech rights with student safety and orderly continuation of classes.
Several demonstrations remained indoors, with students leading assemblies or rallies in gymnasiums, while others stayed confined to school grounds.
In recent days, students and campus principals across the region have been coordinating walkout events, as school districts try to minmize disruptions and safety concerns associated with walkouts. Several districts said they had empowered principals to allow events on campus grounds, encouraging them to speak with student organizers in advance.
"We’re looking forward to some of the unique programs and ways our students have come up with to let their voices be heard," said Nicole Ray, a spokeswoman for Cypress-Fairbanks ISD. "Our biggest concern is safety. We have 117,000 students, so we wouldn’t have the ability to protect that many students walking out at the same time."
Fort Bend ISD viewed the demonstrations as learning opportunities.
"In last couple of months, our campus principals have continued to work with students to ensure that students have been able to play an active role in voicing their opinions while also maintaining a safe learning environment," district spokeswoman Amanda Bubela said via email. "Campus administrators had the autonomy to work with their own students if students indicated they wanted to organize events, but there were also parameters that were outlined so that parents and students were aware of the potential consequences and response should a demonstration occur."
On social media, students throughout the region — from Aldine to Pearland to Cypress — posted photos and videos of on-campus protests.
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Austin High School students posted a message on social media about the walkout: "We, students of Fort Bend ISD stand in solidarity with the students of Parkland Florida."
Travis high School students posted a similar social media message: "Travis High School students commemorate the lives impacted from school shootings nationwide, while dedicating a moment of silence to the individuals who had fallen and could not get back up."
Students chose April 20 as a day of demonstrations to mark the anniversary of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting.