For at least 17 minutes Wednesday, scores of students across the Bay Area put down their pencils and walked out of class to both remember the 17 people killed in last month's South Florida high school shooting and take a stand against gun violence.
From hoisting signs into the air reading "#NeverAgain" to shouting "Enough is enough," students across the region banded together with the students at Parkland, Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to call upon Congress to press forward with gun reform legislation.
"I shouldn't have to go to school worrying about whether I'm going to be shot," Claire Daly, a student at Oakland Tech High School, said during a walkout. "I should be worrying about what I'm going to do for college and how I'm doing in my classes. My safety should not have to be a concern."
[BAY DSJ] Students Walk Out of Bay Area Schools as Part of #NationalSchoolWalkout, Call for Stricter Gun Laws
At the East Bay high school, students gathered outside at 10 a.m. — the time selected for students across the nation to participate in the 17-minute walkouts — to both commemorate the lives lost in Florida as well as those lives claimed by gun violence on the streets of Oakland.
When asked if they have personally been impacted by gun violence, almost everyone in the crowd raised their hands.
"We are unified and we want gun control now," Daly said.
Across the hill in Pleasanton, hundreds of students at Foothill High School walked out of class at 9:55 a.m. and assembled minutes later for a peaceful and calm rally, chanting "Never Again!" at times.
"People need to focus on the safety of their kids, not really the Second Amendment," student Darina Wolfe said. "We shouldn't be afraid to go to school."
While Wolfe expressed one side of the gun debate, some of her fellow students voiced opposite opinions. Despite the differences shared, Pleasanton Unified School District Superintendent Dr. David Haglund noted that both sides acted respectfully.
"What you saw here today is an example of what happens when kids are given the opportunity to express their voice, not repressed," he said. "They did it in a very organized way. They were very respectful in their comments and there were even alternative opinions, and the alternative opinions were equally represented in the crowd."
In Concord, Mt. Diablo High School students needed to break through a gate to get off campus and participate in the walkout.
"It felt good," student Freddy Rodriguez said. "I wanted to show the people in Florida who died that we care here."
At San Jose's Gunderson High School, varying gun opinions were also on display. One student in support of the Second Amendment was spotted with a sign reading "Guns don't kill people, people kill people."
[BAY DSJ] Bay Area Schools Prepare for #NationalSchoolWalkout, Gun Violence Protest
Across the San Francisco Bay, roughly 800 students at San Mateo High School also gathered for a brief assembly, participating peacefully. As speakers addressed the Florida shooting and the debate over gun laws, some students held up signs reading "Learn in Peace," "Students Unite!" and "No More Violence."
"We're no longer accepting that this is just the way things should be," Student Body President Jake Jeffries said. "Especially with the help of and seeing other high school students across the nation, when you see one school starting to spark this change, all the other schools come together. The more and more you get, the more students are more willing to help out with something like this. So the response you're getting is students who see that others are taking action and they're agreeing with it and saying, 'This is enough. Enough is enough.'"
Organizers of the school walkouts hope their actions will spur politicians to take action and pass legislation to keep schools safe from gun violence.
"We are not safe at school," a statement from organizers read. "We are not safe in our cities and towns. Congress must take meaningful action to keep us safe and pass federal gun reform legislation that address the public health crisis of gun violence. We want Congress to pay attention."
Click here for a complete list of Bay Area schools that participated in the walkouts.