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Pittsburgh Students: 'No More Silence, End Gun Violence'

Standing on a platform in front of hundreds of her peers who attend Allderdice High School in Squirrel Hill, freshman Sophia Levin said she didn’t want to be the next victim of gun violence.

“We’re here joining thousands of students across the country demanding that lawmakers take action to increase gun control so that we can go to school without the fear of Pittsburgh being the next Parkland,” she said.

In front of her, a majority of the high school's students packed the school’s plaza with signs that read, “protect our children, not guns.” They chanted, “enough is enough,” and “no more silence, end gun violence.”

Nearly all students at Allderdice High School in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill stood outside for 17 minutes this morning as their classmates read the names of the 17 people who died in a Florida school shooting last month. They called for gun violence prevention.

On the one-month anniversary of a school shooting in Parkland, Fla. that left 17 dead, a group of Allderdice students read the names of the 17 people who were killed. Each of the Pittsburgh students personally researched the victims and read short tributes they wrote. Two students read a poem written by Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Lyliah Skinner, a survivor of the shooting. Other students including freshman Hannah Barsouk, 14, called for stricter gun laws including semi-automatic weapon bans.

“We want to disclose psychiatric assessments required by gun dealers. We want to close the gun show loophole. We want our lawmakers to make a choice that will stop Parkland from ever happening again so easily,” she said.

More than a dozen schools in western Pennsylvania held similar demonstrations Wednesday. Some stood in silence for 17 minutes at 10 a.m. honoring the victims, others called for action after a moment of silence.

Credit Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA
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Hundreds of students gathered outside of Allderdice High School Wednesday morning to honor the victims school shootings.

National School Walkout Day was organized by Women’s March organizers. More than 3,000 protests were planned.

Students outside of the White House chanted “Hey, hey, ho ho – the NRA has got to go.” Others put 14 desks and three podiums in a circle to honor the students and faculty killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High.

Pittsburgh Allderdice senior Jeff Martin, 18, also stood in front of his classmates calling for a safer America.

“Gun violence isn’t just affecting schools, it’s affecting everyone. A school shooting is just a way it has affected the students,” he said.

He said students have been organizing for weeks.

“Our message doesn’t stop right now. We have to continue to be proactive and make sure we voice our opinions and legislators know what we want,” Martin said.

Students in Woodland Hills held signs during a walkout listing students who had been killed this year outside of school. As of January, seven boys attending the district had been shot; five of those students died.

Some schools across the country sent notices to students and parents that they would be disciplined for walking out of the building. In Pittsburgh, Melissa Friez, assistant superintendent of secondary schools, said the district directed principals to talk to student organizers and support them in planning activities for the week. Letters were sent to parents and staff.

“For students where the schools did not chose to plan activities, we still sent them a letter letting them know that today was a national walkout day and that if students were to walk out, that we would respect the fact that they walked out,” she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.