RI students walk out of class to mark Columbine anniversary

Students at the Gordon School in East Providence walk out of school in the name of gun safety, Friday, April 20, 2018. (WJAR)

Students in Southern New England joined others across the country Friday in a walkout advocating for stricter gun laws and an end to gun violence in schools.

At about 10:30 a.m., students and faculty at the Gordon School in East Providence joined others walking out nationwide on the 19th anniversary of the massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.

The walkout was planned and led entirely by eighth-graders. Children between the fifth and eighth grades were given the option to participate, but it wasn't mandatory.

The 17 people who were shot and killed in February at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, were specifically on the minds of many students, who were just hearing about a school shooting in Ocala, Florida, Friday morning. Authorities said a student shot another student in the ankle.

Wearing black clothes and orange ribbons to pay tribute to all school shooting victims, Gordon School students said they are demanding change.

"Myself as a student it's really tough. It's like, am I next? For my siblings, for my friends at other schools, it's really tough to hear," Eighth-grader Alexander Orth said.

Fourth-grade students took part in what school leaders described as a teach-in, focusing on how to make their voices heard rather than taking up the issue of gun violence with those younger kids.

A similar walkout was held at the Rocky Hill School in Warwick. U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin spoke about gun regulation and safety.

Organizers of the nationwide walkout said more than 2,500 demonstrations were planned from Maine to Hawaii.

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