Hundreds of Columbus students participate in national walkout to promote safety

    Students at Columbus-area high schools participated in the Youth EMPOWER National School Walkout, according district officials. (WSYX/WTTE)

    Columbus City Schools held a variety activities Wednesday to promote safety as students locally and nationally are planning walkouts on the one-month anniversary of the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

    (Share your photos and videos of walkout events here)

    "Safety is a fundamental priority in all that we do in Columbus City Schools, and we are safer when we work together to prioritize safety, when we act together to protect one another, and when we speak out together about the need to end gun violence," the Columbus Board of Education said in a resolution declaring March 14 as 'Safer Together Day.'

    Columbus high school students participated in the "Youth EMPOWER National School Walkout," district officials said in a media release.

    The walkouts, which were also organized in other districts in Central Ohio, are a 17-minute event scheduled to begin at 10 a.m., honoring the 17 lives lost in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine's Day.

    "At the same time, teachers will offer additional classroom conversations on ways in which students play an important role in fostering positive school climates and in keeping everyone in our school communities safer," CCS district officials said.

    Parent safety meetings were also scheduled for Wednesday night at several schools, including Centennial High School, Columbus Gifted Academy, and Cranbrook Elementary School.

    Here is a list of activities provided by Columbus City Schools:

    - South High School: Board of Education President Gary Baker and Superintendent Dr. John Stanford will join students as they walkout and march to the football stadium to conduct a moment of silence. Following the walkout and brief speakers, students will join together for a lunchtime conversation about gun violence in the community.

    - Walnut Ridge High School: Drummers from the school's marching band will lead students on the walkout. During the 17-minute memorial, students will read the names and ages of the 17 victims of the Florida school shooting. Students will also have the opportunity to sign a banner-sized pledge to end violence and commit to being Safer Together.

    - Whetstone High School: Students will lead a silent walkout and march to the stadium, carrying posters with the names of the 17 Florida victims. The memorial will include a moment of silence followed by 17 drum taps. Students will paint the school's Spirit Rock orange and tie orange ribbons on trees around the campus.

    - West High School: Starting at 1:40 p.m., students and staff who walkout and march to the football stadium will form a large "#17" on the field in honor of the 17 victims in Florida. Each students will then "introduce" his or her self to 17 other students who they might normally not talk to or know well, as a way to break down the barriers of social isolation.

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