KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Just after 10 a.m. Wednesday, students poured onto the front lawn of Hogan Preparatory Academy in Kansas City to send a message about gun violence.
“I feel like today was powerful for Hogan to come together again as a family to recognize the shootings that happened in Florida,” senior Darriona Jones said.
The student-organized walkout happened at the same time as similar events at high schools across the country.
“We did it because an injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere, so we just wanted to show all of our peers around the world that we stand with them,” said Avrye King, Student Council president and co-organizer of the march.
The students gathered on the school's front lawn, chanting and holding signs for about 17 minutes. Some students said Wednesday’s demonstration aimed to highlight the importance of establishing better gun control policies, as well as remember the lives lost to senseless violence both in Florida and in the Kansas City area.
“For us, it was also a day of remembrance,” English teacher William Dowdell said.
“We've lost three students, one young man in 2017 who had just graduated, and then the year before two of my students that I taught at the elementary -- we lost them to gun violence,” he said.
Dowdell said beyond Wednesday’s rally and national recognition event, he'll continue to have discussions with students about safety and social problems that exist in our community.
“Whenever we do something, we talk about why we're doing it, and then we talk about afterward -- how do we unpack it," Dowdell said. "Since this was student-led, we`re going to allow the students to really lead the discussion and just get a better feel for where they are and see how settled they are."
Many students said they felt empowered after Wednesday and hope their voices continue to be heard on these important issues.
“I just think we need to raise awareness, and we need people to build a sensitivity because it is a life that they are taking," King said. "Also, we need more restrictions because it's so easy for anyone to get a gun."