TAYLOR, Pa. -- Students across our region participated in walkouts at their schools. Hundreds walked out a high school in Lackawanna County. The teachers and administrators at Riverside High School gave the students their support.
The walkout protest at Riverside Junior/Senior High School was planned by a few of the school's seniors. They were surprised to hear that their principal also wanted to participate.
A two-hour delay meant Riverside High School Students walked out the front doors only minutes after school started. At 10 a.m., in solidarity with students across the country, they stood in silence. Then, they released balloons in memory of the victims of last month's school shooting in Florida.
Skycam 16 captured them circling the courtyard of the school in Taylor for 17 minutes, one minute for each victim in Florida.
The walkout was a protest organized by seniors Christina Smith and Mackenzie Mickavicz and supported by their principal.
"They realize their right to exercise their First Amendment right, for a positive cause, and I think this is something all of these students who participated are going to take with them years from now," said Riverside High School Principal Joe Moceyunas.
"Mr. Mo actually approached us and said teachers had been telling him, 'Christina and Mackenzie are organizing this.' And then he was like, 'I want to be involved. This is great.' And we just thought that was a great idea because if unfortunately, someone violent did come into the school, they're coming for the staff, the teachers, the students, everybody, so we thought it would be great to have him involved and everybody as a community," said senior Christina Smith.
After the walk, the students moved inside to express their desire for increased school safety and changes in gun control laws.
Then, every student who participated in the protest signed a banner they plan to send to the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
The protest at Riverside wasn't met with much resistance, even from mom and dad.
The Arcaro family came to support their 16-year-old daughter who participated in the walkout. This, they say, may be the most valuable lesson of the day.
"We want them to have a voice, and here they are the next group of voters. And so, they're voicing their opinion. They want them to grow up, and this is part of growing up these days," said Frank Arcaro.
Teachers at Riverside say several hundred students participated in the walkout though they were not required. Before they went back to class, the students heard from a speaker who talked to them about the importance of mental health.