LEE CO., GA (WALB) - Thousands of students across the nation walked out of school this morning to make a statement on Wednesday. Some walked out of school to support gun control, some to call for stopping violence in schools and others to pay respect to the students who were killed in Parkland, Florida last month.
The demonstration started at Lee County High School around 9:30 when administrators made an announcement over the loudspeakers.
It was about a half hour before the rest of the country planned to participate in National School Walkout Day.
"It feels like we do have more of a chance for creating awareness about this," said freshman Sierra San Nicolas.
She carried a sign with her as she walked out of the school Wednesday morning.
"I just wanted to come out here to represent the people that lost their lives and the people that were affected by the loss of their lives," explained junior Carmen Lord.
Some students felt more strongly than others about the gun control debate.
"Guns in schools shouldn't be allowed. It's wrong," explained Keely Eubanks, a sophomore at the school.
The event was pre-organized by the Student Government Association. It started with a moment of silence followed by a walkout for students who wanted to participate at the football field for a longer presentation.
"We didn't speak about any political views or anything about gun control to be politically correct and not to offend everyone so our message would appeal to everyone," explained Student Government Association President Justin Seo.
Seo and the president of the student body read the names of the 17 students killed at Stoneman Douglas High School just one month ago. Then they made speeches they had prepared.
"Basically about if you see something, say something. If you see something suspicious, report it and also a speech about just being polite and nice to each other," said Seo.
As students returned inside, five students remained in the bleachers, silent. For them the demonstration was political.
"We got out here and it wasn't exactly what I expected it to be," explained junior Hannah Hatcher. "I was under the impression it would be 17 minutes of silence, 17 victims, one minute per victim. That's not exactly what we got. And I didn't see a reason why we shouldn't have. So I took my 17 minutes to honor each victim."
Chase Graham, a senior, sat with Hatcher and the others.
"I didn't expect to stay another 17 minutes, but I thought it was appropriate," explained Graham.
They said they felt connected with students across the country and were happy school administrators supported their First Amendment rights.
"They didn't reprimand us for doing this and I'm very proud to be part of a school that does that," said Graham.
After the walkout, Lee County administrators wanted to continue the conversation about problems our nation is facing.
They wanted to talk to students about ways to keep the peace in schools and make all students feel welcome.
They spoke to students about if they see something suspicious or another student struggling to say something about it.
Administrators said they want students to realize that saying something isn't snitching, it's being a good citizen.
Then, each class participated in a #What'sYour17? activity.
"What are 17 things you could do or one thing you could do 17 times that might make a difference in someone else being lonely or being left out," explained one teacher to her class.
School leaders said they have been having discussions all year about tragedies that are happening across the nation and how students feel about them.