Students across the nation hosted walkouts on Wednesday in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida last month.
Students of State College High School held a memorial to pay tribute. Seventeen students read names and biographies of the 17 victims who died at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, followed by a moment of silence.
About 300 students chose to attend the memorial in the school courtyard. School administration and student organizers worked together to plan to event.
State High senior Kayla Fatemi, one of the organizers, said to make the memorial more inclusive to everyone, they focused the gathering on raising awareness for school safety, instead of raising a political message.
“After what happened at Stoneman Douglas, we as students wanted to get involved within our school and community to make whatever kind of a difference we can. While it was clear from the beginning to us that, as a public school, our administration cannot advocate for any political agenda, there is no reason it cannot endorse the hope, which all Americans share, in wanting schools to be a safe place,” Fatemi wrote in a statement.
Sophomore student Kyra Gines said the Parkland tragedy hits home for her because Parkland is considered a safe town, just like State College.
“To see a safe town just be wrecked by the shooting, it was kind of like, well, that’s not where it’s supposed to happen. Why did it happen there?” Gines said. “So it became a breaking point.”
Students were given the option to attend the memorial, stay in their classroom to write cards and letters, or use the 25-minute period to study.
State High Principal Curtis Johnson said he is proud of the student body.
“I’m glad to come to a common goal, to memorialize these students. It’s very powerful,” he said.
The Delta Program, Park Forest Middle School, Mount Nittany Middle School and State College Area School District elementary schools also had various activities to address school safety on Wednesday.
A handful of other school districts in the area arranged activities for students to participate in the classroom.
State High students will lead a non-school-affiliated march on the 24th in State College. It’s a sister march with “March For Our Lives” in D.C.