When classroom clocks hit 10 a.m. on Wednesday, some RPS 205 students say they won't be in their seats. Instead, they'll be walking out of class. Partaking in a national 17 minutes protest of the gun violence that happened in Parkland Florida, killing 17 people. Some students say they aren't just protesting the violence in schools.
"A lot of the students have suffered from or are the victims of gun violence," says Auburn Sophomore Pranav Volety. "Last year I know there was the shooting of a person named Lavontay Allen, someone I knew. That's just one example of how we've been affected by it."
"I see a culture of fear developing especially in the days directly after the shooting, all this talk of active shooter drills,all this talk about teachers being armed, and heightened security," says Auburn Senior Ty Kiatathikom. "I don't want to grow up like that. I don't want the people after me to grow up like that and go through the school system in fear."
"After Sandy Hook happened, I've been planning escape routes from all my schools," says Rockford East Junior Simon Davis.
"It's a fear that it won't go away unless we do something," says Rockford East Senior Rachell Alvarado.
Which is why students say they're trying to keep the conversation going. They say their hope is those in control will hear them, and push for stricter gun laws and measures that they say will keep them safe.
"We're doing this so we can use our voices," says Davis. "That's what it's about. Using our voices to be heard and hopefully make a difference."
"We're students, we're the ones affected by it," says Rockford East Senior Alondra Lavariega. "At the end of the day we're the ones with the fear. If we don't speak up now, when will we get the chance again?"
"I feel like that's the issue people need to talk about it, people need to be inspired to do something about it," says Alvarado. "If lives being taken isn't enough then what's going to do it?"
"If you think it's right, and you think it should be done, you fight for it," says Rockford East Junior Julian Vallejo. "No matter what the punishment is."
13 News reached out to RPS 205 for a comment it issued this statement:
"As an educational institution, we want our students to remain in the classroom. That said, we know students' voices are powerful. We are encouraging our students to voice their concerns in other ways, such as writing letters to legislators, inviting guest speakers or supporting local efforts tied to the March 24th event in Washington D.C., which is outside of regular school hours."
The statement goes on to say administrators have plans in place to keep students who participate safe, it remains unclear if students who take part will be punished.