BALTIMORE (WMAR) - Hundreds of students across Maryland stood in solidarity with their peers across the country Wednesday, walking out of school to protest gun violence and promote school safety.
"This can't happen anymore. Something needs to change," Baltimore Polytechnic Institute student Barrett Wynn said.
"I don't want to live in a world where I have to be afraid to better my education," one Dulaney High School student said.
The national demonstrations come one month after a gunman killed 17 people at a school in Parkland, Florida.
"If it can happen in Florida, it can happen to us too so we are going to stand up and fight for what's right," one Baltimore City College High School student said.
For many of the students, gun violence is very real in their lives, from threats in school to Baltimore's high murder rate.
"Especially for next generations, we don't want to have them have to worry about them having to go outside and get shot," City College student Elisha Henriques said.
"Our school legitimately is a student body family and I'll be damned if I let it be said that I didn't to everything that was necessary to protect my family," Wynn said.
Wynn helped organize the walk out at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. Students laid down on the football field for a 17-minute moment of silence to remember the Parkland victims before having a speak out on the bleachers.
"I feel like the NRA has too much power these days and it allows them to effectively silence sort of any opposition so I'm hoping people coming away with a feeling of not being silenced anymore," Wynn said.
The CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools, Dr. Sonja Brookins Santelises, released this statement on the walkouts:
“Our young people are always inspirational, and today they learned that they are powerful. The issue of gun violence has touched many of our students directly, and all of us in Baltimore have felt its effects. After too much violence and too little action, our students are showing all of us a path with the promise of real change. I am proud of their productive participation in this nationwide movement and, as an educator, I am proud and moved by the many ways they expressed their views -- through silent protest, marches, writing, songs and chants – in a real-life application of student voice. I look forward to seeing where they will lead.”
A few students also walked out from Fallston High School, despite Harford County banning their participation. County spokesperson Jillian Lader said the protests were limited and orderly.
"Our students were respectful and poised this morning. We commend each of them," Lader said in a statement.
Lader said other students participated in a classroom activity designed to serve as an alternative to the nationally endorsed walkout.
"The activity was created to encourage students to openly interact with each other in a teacher led module regarding their personal and collective feelings pertinent to school safety and security," Lader said.