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Heritage High School students participate in national school walkout

Students across the country, and here at home, walked out of class Wednesday - a statement to both honor the Parkland, Florida shooting victims and call for stricter gun laws. (Image: WTVC)

Students across the country, and here at home, walked out of class Wednesday - a statement to both honor the Parkland, Florida shooting victims and call for stricter gun laws.

The students, not even old enough to vote, are finding their voices in a highly contentious topic.

At Heritage High School in Catoosa County, the walkout wasn't focused on gun control, despite that being the focus of the national movement.

Instead, students focused on school safety and the changes they could make.

During the 17-minute demonstration, students gave one another words of encouragement and also held a moment of silence to remember the 17 people killed in Parkland, Florida exactly one month ago.

Senior Marie Coffey chose to walk out of class Wednesday morning.

"I know it’s not very big what we’re doing right now. It doesn’t seem like it, but it all starts somewhere small," she said.

Coffey didn't walkout to protest guns, but instead to show lawmakers that their focus should remain on making schools safe.

"We have to start now making a change for the future so our kids can go to school and get an education and not be scared," she said.

Some students came just to listen. Others held handmade signs with messages to Congress.

Karianne Scharf's sign read: If you won’t do anything we will.

"I want to see more action being taken place and a lot more supervisors during events at school and during, like, just regular school hours," she said.

However, not everyone agrees with students decision to walk out of class. Catoosa County Republicans Chairman Jeff Holcomb says this movement sets a terrible example.

"We need to teach our children responsibility. When you have to be at school, you need to be at school, and when you want to protest, do it at recess," he told NewsChannel 9.

But, this group of students believes breaking the rules is worth it.

Related:

Local students join nationwide walkouts Wednesday

From somber to angry, school walkout protests vary in tenor

Students protest gun violence at the Capitol as House passes first school safety bill

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