WASHINGTON - On the 19th anniversary of the deadly shooting at Columbine High School, students in the D.C. area and others across the country are planning to take part in a National School Walkout Friday.
Several groups such as National School Walkout DC, Students Demand Action DMV and Montgomery County Students for Gun Control are leading the demonstration in the D.C. region as they are bringing students together to remember the 13 victims that were killed in Littleton, Colorado, in 1999.
Students are expected walk out of their classrooms and gather at Lafayette Square Park in Washington at 10 a.m. for a moment of silence to honor the victims.
The students will then march to the U.S. Capitol for a protest for tougher gun control while also delivering letters from concerned citizens across the country to lawmakers.
“This event seeks to bring together students throughout the region in pursuing legislation to end the gun violence epidemic plaguing our country," National School Walkout DC wrote in a post on its Twitter page.
Two students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, will be flying to D.C. to speak at the rally.
Organizers say there will be walkouts in every state. Police in Richmond, Virginia, say they expect at least 10,000 at the state Capitol.
In Littleton, some survivors of the Columbine shooting planned to join with Parkland survivors for a vigil and rally Thursday evening. But there will be no walkout at Columbine, which has long canceled classes on the anniversary of the shooting. Instead, students will be called to participate in a day of service.
Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith wrote in a letter to parents saying in part:
“I have been made aware that some students intend to leave school without permission tomorrow, April 20, to participate in a national demonstration on school safety. While we continue to support student advocacy, we want students who choose to engage in the civic process to do so while at school, in a learning environment that is supportive and safe. With guidance from MCPS leadership, school administrators have been available to work closely with student leaders to develop a plan that will provide students an opportunity to express their views while remaining safe on campus. Schools will contact families if on campus demonstrations have been developed. These demonstrations are student-led and voluntary. No student will be compelled to participate or discouraged from participation.
“As I shared in my messages on February 22 and March 12, leaving school property can disrupt instruction for other students and pose a significant safety risk, especially in light of the increase of school threats. MCPS does not have the staff or resources to ensure students are safe during the school day when they are not on a school campus. I ask that you speak with your child to let them know that if they leave the school building without permission or walk out of class outside of a designated time, it will be considered an unexcused absence.”
Information from the Associated Press used in this report.