VIDEO - Hundreds of students paid tribute to the victims at Parkland Wednesday morning.
Over 300 Dover High School students left class Wednesday morning and gathered onto the football field to honor the 17 victims of a recent Florida school shooting.
The National School Walkout took place at schools around the country, beginning at 10 a.m. and lasting for 17 minutes. In addition to honoring victims of the shooting, the protest was intended to support a call for gun safety legislation.
While there were concerns buzzing around on social media that the protest might make students an easy target for gunmen, junior Christina Garcia said putting her self at risk was worth it.
“It was important for me to stand up for other people, knowing all of those families had to experience the loss of their children, loved ones and people they tried to protect,” the 16-year-old Garcia said. "I know representing them and showing that people care was more important than just sitting back and saying, ‘oh, I know it’s not going to happen at my school.’”
Some participating DHS students wore orange, because it’s a color hunters wear to protect themselves from getting shot by fellow hunters in the woods.
Kylie Bumgarner, a junior, was clad in an orange sweatshirt to express her disgust with the trend of school shootings around the country.
“We could be next,” the 17-year-old Bumgarner said. “Anyone could be next.”
Bumgarner said she’s heard the argument that the trend of school shootings has more to do with bullying than guns being the root cause. To those claims, the junior said there’s no one solution to end mass shootings.
“I think that guns are part of the problem. But I do think students with a lack of coping skills is a problem too,” she said. “I don’t think that our teachers are necessarily out here looking for mental health issues that are quite obvious, so we need to do a better job on that.”
During DHS’ walkout, students had a moment of silence for 17 seconds to commemorate the 17 victims.
Azaria Lewis, president of Dover High’s Class of 2020, co-organized her school protest. Lewis stood in the bleachers, alongside her fellow organizers in orange attire, and read off names of the victims.
The sophomore said her motivation behind organizing the protest stemmed from it being “a very important topic to our students.”
Lewis said she was pleased with the walkout overall. But she didn’t take kindly to some of her peers goofing around during the tribute.
“I definitely appreciate the students who came out for the right reasons,” Lewis said. “I saw some with signs and T-shirts. I definitely appreciate that. But with the students who were out there just to get out of class, I feel like that was very disrespectful.”
Then again, Lewis said she doesn’t have the power to force everyone to be respectful.
“You can’t always direct everyone’s thoughts and everyone’s actions,” she said. “We tried to push out that this is a very serious matter.”
Leading up to the walkout, some adults in the community said participating students were misguided for wanting to protest.
Charles Anyanwu Jr., a sophomore and photographer for the Senator Newspaper, disagrees with that notion.
“We are young adults and we should be treated as such,” Anyanwu said. “But the only way we can improve ourselves as young adults is by taking part in protests like this. This is how we learn to grow and stick up for things that have meaning.”
The National School Walkout commemorated the 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, killed by a gunman Feb. 14.
The protest was also intended to send a message to elected officials from the growing number of people who think Congress should enact tougher gun laws.
Another gun protest is scheduled in Washington, D.C. on March 24 called March for Our Lives.