(This story was updated at 12:45 p.m. with an official count of the participants).
Roughly 800 South Lakes High School students joined their peers from all over the country for a scheduled 17-minute National School Walkout to End Gun Violence at 10 a.m. today (March 14).
Chanting phrases like “Enough is enough,” “We want change,” and “No more silence, end gun violence,” students gathered in the school’s football stadium for the rally. SLHS student Dora Ahearn-wood repeated the names of the 17 victims in the Parkland shooting in a call-and-response pattern.
A moment of silence followed.
The impetus behind the rally was especially real following a lockdown at SLHS and two other Reston public schools on Friday. Local police determined a report about a student with a gun was false.
“The lockdown was a false alarm and everyone was safe. But we should not have to live in a place where we have to see our friends texting and calling their family, terrified for their lives. We should not have to go to school and experience a lockdown because the presence of an active-shooter on campus is a real possibility. We should not have to live in a country where teenagers can have access to weapons of war,” said SLHS student Sophia Liao.
Others like Zach Schonfeld encouraged students to join survivors of the Parkland shooting in the District for the March for Our Lives. Schonfeld also encouraged students to take their grievances to the ballot box by registering to vote, volunteering for a campaign, call Congressional representatives to push for gun control and raise their voices to declare “enough is enough.”
“Whatever you do, don’t sit out on the sidelines and merely add Parkland to the tragic list that has senselessly killed so many. Next time, it could be us,” he said.
Walkout participants were marked for “cutting class” during the walkout, which fell during the third period class, according to SLHS principal Kim Retzer.
“Like any other school day, our teachers will prepare various learning activities to engage students and we expect our students to participate in their learning process. Should students leave class, teachers will continue with their instruction to all students who remain in the classroom,” Retzer wrote in a statement.
Students at other area schools like Langston Hughes Middle School in Reston and Floris Elementary School in Herndon also participated in similar walkouts.
Footage by ABC News linked below mistakenly indicated SLHS students walked off of school grounds. The footage is not from SLHS.
Students at South Lakes High School in Reston, Virginia walk out of their classrooms to protest for stricter gun laws as part of #NationalWalkoutDay. https://t.co/Yf340llQUp pic.twitter.com/gqMc7ZcaQz
— Good Morning America (@GMA) March 14, 2018