Thousands of Colorado students participate in National School Walkout

DENVER -- As part of the National School Walkout, thousands of local students left school on Wednesday to demand stricter gun laws.

Students said they want school to be a safe place to learn. They chose to end the march at the State Capitol to send a visual message to lawmakers: They want gun reform.

A sea of students on the steps of the Capitol waved signs and chanted, “No more silence, kill gun violence.”

A megaphone was used to amplify their message.

“What do we want? Gun control. When do we want it? Now," they chanted.

One mother held tight to her daughter.

“There are 17 families who can’t hug their babies. That’s what I was doing, just being so grateful that I can be here and hugging her,” Jodi Duke said.

The protest was sparked by last month’s mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead.

“I was scared to go back to school because I don’t know what will happen. Are we going to be next?” said Alonna Patilla, an eighth-grader at Denver Green School.

The crowd then fell silent. With somber expressions and down-cast eyes, they held 17 minutes of silence. One minute was dedicated to each victim killed in Parkland.

One Denver Public School administrator said he is proud to see students take action beyond the classroom.

“It’s good that they already know at this young age that a democracy needs active participants," spokesman Will Jones said. "So, the fact that they’re willing to come out, take time out of their day, come out and learn and show that they do have a voice, is very important."

DPS said its normal absence policy was in place on Wednesday. If parents did not call in for their child, they will have an unexcused absence for walking out.

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