PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Hundreds of city students left class on Tuesday to protest gun violence.
Students organized the walkout in the wake of the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., which left 17 people dead.
The local students honored those killed or injured while making a statement calling for stricter safety and gun control measures.
Taconic students left the front entrances, walked along the sidewalk, down to the football field. There the students gathered for a rally, which lasted about one hour. At Pittsfield High School, the students did the same but on the front steps.
Hundreds of students joined in the effort, carrying signs calling for stronger gun control measures and increase security measures, rallying passerby's support, and chanting such things as "no more silence, end gun violence."
The school's administration took steps to provide security during the events. At both places, additional city police officers were on scene and anyone, including media, who was not a student or staff was not allowed on the property by school administration -- at Taconic that meant students were several hundred yards from anyone outside of students and staff during a speaking portion and a moment of silence.
Superintendent Jason McCandless on Tuesday discouraged the public from attending, calling the protests a "school event."
"These events are planned and organized by students. These events are for high school students. These are not public events, and no one, children or adults, including parents, will be allowed on school grounds during this time," reads a message McCandless wrote to parents.
The administration gave its blessing to the students' right to assemble.
"We also believe it is appropriate that students voices are heard and respected on this and all issues. Tuesday's student-led walkout is a means of students having control, being heard, and organizing to let all of us know their thoughts on this matter. We believe students have a need to do this, and therefore, we will not treat this as skipping school, or treat it is a disciplinary issue," McCandless wrote.
And hundreds of students did just that at both schools, leaving the classroom on Tuesday to make their voices heard about the recent violence. But those voices were mostly only heard by the students themselves.
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