Cheers and hugs welcomed a barefoot Jorge Sempere as he finished a 12-mile journey from West Boca Community High School and arrived at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Tuesday morning to protest gun violence in the wake of the school’s massacre.
He and other students from West Boca High walked out of their school campus to show solidarity with their neighboring peers, some of whom had just embarked on a lobbying trip to Tallahassee.
“It took like four hours and 20 minutes,” said Sempere, as he placed his black Vans on the pavement. “I’m tired, but I’m happy. I’m happy that we’ve done this.”
The spontaneous demonstration took place after a planned 17 minutes of silence at the school’s courtyard, in memory for the 17 people killed in last week’s shooting. Then students decided that it wasn’t enough.
“When they asked us to go back to class we all stood up and we were like: no, we have to do more than this; silence is not the answer always,” said Haley Farber, a student at West Boca, who met her classmates at Stoneman Douglas with seven cases of water and Gatorade.
Some students walked the whole way and others, like Farber, rode in cars and delivered snacks and beverages to replenish their classmates.
“We decided to walk all the way here so that people would listen to the message,” said Sempere, “so that there’s less school shootings and more gun control.”
Although the school walkout was not planned, students expressed that they felt the support of their teachers and administrators.
School buses were sent to Stoneman Douglas to take the students back to West Boca after the demonstration.
Parents also met students there for support and to drive them home afterward.
“[I'm] super proud of my daughter for walking here from her school and for supporting her friends and for standing up for a cause," said Veronica Block, who arrived at the school after. "And to make a difference, to see if they can do some gun control in this country that we need."