TRENTON — Students around New Jersey walked out of class as part of the National School Walkout Day on the one month anniversary of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Organized by Empower, the youth wing of the Women's March, students left class at 10 a.m. and observed 17 minutes of silence, one minute for each of those killed at the school.

A majority of the school's 1,600 students walked onto the cold football field at Princeton High School and listened to the names of the 17 slain victims. Several residents also stood on the sidewalk outside the field holding anti-gun violence signs in support of the students.

Junior May Kotsen said she thought the walkout would be a good way to show solidarity with the victims.

"Thoughts and prayers only do so much and we really need action in order to change things," Kotsen said.

She said it is "super important" for students to tell politicians that if they accept contributions from the National Rifle Association students will not support them and to campaign for candidates who share their view.

Kotsen said there has been discussion between students who think the walkout is useless and those who strongly support gun rights.

"Walkouts give teenagers a voice," Kotsen said.

Another organizer of the walkout, 16-year-old Talia Fiester, said the idea of the walkout is simple.

“We want stricter gun laws, we don’t want school shootings to happen again, we want to be the generation to end gun violence.” She said students want “universal background checks for guns, mandatory mental health checks banning all war weapons, just like every other developed nation has, it’s a little absurd that the United States still doesn’t have that.”

Fiester said one underlying themes here is students don’t feel safe.

“Students are always going to feel the threat of a shooting happening at our school, just because we see one on the news almost every day.”

When asked if she felt these ongoing student protests will have any meaningful, lasting impact she said it’s possible they won’t but “there are times in history when there are movements that have so much importance behind them that they don’t die down and change actually happens.”
Fiester said one underlying themes here is students don’t feel safe.

“Students are always going to feel the threat of a shooting happening at our school, just because we see one on the news almost every day.”

When asked if she felt these ongoing student protests will have any meaningful, lasting impact she said it’s possible they won’t but “there are times in history when there are movements that have so much importance behind them that they don’t die down and change actually happens.”

Princeton police blocked off the streets around both the high school and middle school where students walked onto the field and formed a heart.

All the high school students then walked back into the school to participate in seminars on mental health awareness, community service and petitioning elected officials.

Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, D-Somerset, also addressed the students .

Rosa Rodriquez was the only student to walk out of Sayreville War Memorial High School, according to 1010 WINS, where students were threatened with a two-day suspension. Video showed her standing on the edge of Washington Road in front of then with a Sayreville police car parked next to her.

Around the state:

Atlantic City Police put Atlantic City High School on lockdown as the walkout was getting underway. A student received a threatening text that said weapons were hidden in the immediate area outside of the school and alerted police who were already at the school for the walkout.

The lockout was lifted and students dismissed as normal around 1 p.m.

A walkout at Hackensack High School was canceled over "security concerns." Instead, they viewed presentation on the school's closed circuit television station in support of Stoneman students.

An anonymous threat made late Tuesday night against the Clearview Regional High School district led to the cancelation of classes on Wednesday, according to Harrison Township police. The department continued to investigate the source of the threat.

A 15-year-old Toms River school district student was taken into custody after making a post alluding to violence on Instagram, according to Toms River police. The walkout activities went on as scheduled at schools.

Adam Hochran and David Matthau contributed to this report.

Did your school participate in the walkout? Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

 

 

 

 

 

Not everyone supportive: