Students at Skinner North hold walkout to call for gun control after Santa Fe HS shooting

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Students at a Near North Side elementary school walked out of the classroom Monday morning to take a stand on gun violence in light of Friday's deadly school shooting in Texas.

It was a silent but powerful protest outside the front doors of Skinner North Classical School honoring the 10 people killed in the shooting at Santa Fe High School.

The students carried signs scrawled with the names of school shooting victims.

Seventh-grader Ciara Hernandez led the group that organized the demonstration.

"They were just trying to get an education and someone who shouldn't have been able to get their hands on a gun got their hands on a gun," Hernandez said.

The group of students also held signs demanding stricter gun laws. Some were asking that politicians stop taking contributions from the National Rifle Association.

On Friday, police say a 17-year-old junior at Santa Fe High School shot and killed 10 students and teachers and wounded 13 others. Monday morning, students here at Skinner North said enough is enough.

"I think it really portrayed the message that we are honoring these deaths because you know we are giving our vows, our prayers in silence and it just gathered more attention," said seventh-grader Joseph Morco.

This is this group's third demonstration. They were also part of a group of thousands of Chicago-area students that took part in a massive walk out in March following the deadly school shooting in Parkland High School in Florida.

Principal Katie Magnuson said the students have organized everything on their own.

"I wouldn't tell them what to do in that regard at all but them having a space to become civically engaged and to become civic-minded individuals is important," Magnuson said.

Students said this time around they are planning on writing letters to their lawmakers. They're asking for tougher gun laws on a national level.

Chicago Public School CEO Dr. Janice Jackson said she supports demonstrations of this kind as long as students are not put in danger.

"We appreciate the fact that our students are rising up and making it clear that this is something that can't be tolerated," Jackson said. "Obviously that has to be done in a safe and respectful manner."

Pediatric psychologist Colleen Cicchetti said she's not surprised that many students are choosing to face their fears by organizing demonstrations like the one at Skinner North Elementary.

"It's unfortunate that our kids are learning that they have a voice with such a scary topic," Dr. Cicchetti said. "On the other hand, when we feel scared one of the most important things we can do in any situation is to do something active."

Dr. Cicchetti suggested that parents make sure that they start conversations with their children about school shooting incidents and that they have accurate information about what happened. She said parents should also encourage students to talk to teachers and school administrators about the safety plans that are already in place.
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