Long Island students walk out of school to protest gun violence

Hundreds of students at South Side High School in Rockville Centre, Long Island, participated in Wednesday's nationwide school walkout to protest gun violence. They filed onto a field in silence, stood in solidarity with the community of Parkland, Florida, and then called for change.

It was a peaceful but powerful demonstration sparked by the school massacre at Stoneman Douglas High School exactly one month ago. Despite the cold, students and teachers stood outside for 17 minutes—one minute for each person killed.

"As a group, we felt it was more important to be outside instead of the gym because the point of a walkout is to walk out," said Kieran Traverse, a senior at the school.

The walkout was part of a larger movement on Long Island and across the nation. Some students at Ward Melville High School in the Three Village Central School District walked out of the building at the same time.

However, not all districts condoned leaving school. The principal of Valley Stream Central High School warned parents in a letter that students who left would receive an unexcused absence. Another note in West Islip cited safety concerns.

But Rockville Centre Superintendent William Johnson said honoring the First Amendment rights of the children was important.

"I was part of a generation that changed the world when we were young in the 1960s," Johnson said. "I just am absolutely thrilled to see that the youth of America may in fact make a difference when some of the adults couldn't."

Zoe Medalgia, a senior at South Side High, read the names of some of the victims. She said she hopes to be part of the change.

"We've had weeks to process this but when you're out there and you're saying the names of students that you could've been saying from here or any other school it," she said.