AZ students join national conversation about gun violence with walkouts

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Apollo High School (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Apollo High School (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Xavier College Preparatoty in Phoenix (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Xavier College Preparatoty in Phoenix (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Mountain Ridge High School (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Mountain Ridge High School (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Mountain Ridge High School (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Mountain Ridge High School (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

Arizona students joined thousands of their counterparts across the country -- and the world --  for National School Walkout Day on Wednesday, one month to the day after 17 people were killed in a massacre at a school in Parkland, FL.

Each of the walkouts featured a 17-minute element – one minute for each Parkland victim.

The events were not only to honor those victims but also to protest gun violence. Since Parkland, students all over the country have been vocal about their desire for change, reminding everyone from the president to their local legislators that they have the right to feel safe in their schools.

[PHOTOS: Students rally together to stop gun violence]

[RELATED: Student walkouts protesting gun violence sweep the nation]

[RELATED: Activists place thousands of shoes on Capitol lawn in gun death memorial]

[CBS VIDEO: National school walkouts]

Led by Parkland students, young activists have used social media to mobilize a massive campaign in their effort to be heard. Wednesday’s school walkouts are only part of that.

“After the Parkland shooting, there was just a huge outreach on social media by students – our students, as well as students around the country," explained Kate Straneva, the student body president at Xavier Preparatory Academy.

“If fills me with so much joy and hope, really,  for the future that these girls would be so concerned with the people around them, with people that they haven’t even met,” Father Kevin Grimditch, the school’s chaplain, said.

"We’re trying to say, 'Enough is enough,'" Straneva continued. "We need to, as students, take action in some way or form and console and use each other to move forward."

[RELATED: Schools strike compromises with students ahead of school walkouts]

Taking action and moving forward is the plan.

The next "formal" event takes place in a little more than a week.

“On March 24, the kids and families of March For Our Lives will take to the streets of Washington DC to demand that their lives and safety become a priority and that we end this epidemic of mass school shootings,” according to “The collective voices of the March For Our Lives movement will be heard. Join us in DC or march in your own community.”

Students and families in the Phoenix metro will be taking part in a local event. They plan to converge on the Arizona Capitol on Saturday, March 24 at 10 a.m. for a "[s]tudent-led protest in response to gun violence that have resulted in tragedies time and time again." 

But it's not just about walkouts and peaceful demonstrations. It's also about exercising the power granted them by the Consitution. Many of the upperclassmen are old enough to vote or will be soon.

A number of school groups, here and elsewhere, are hosting voter registration drives, encouraging these young adults to make their voices heard when it counts the most -- on Election Day.

“We hope that students will use their power to vote to help elect lawmakers to help stop these awful instances [school massacres] from happening," Straneva said. 

"I think this is just the beginning,” said Jacob, a Mountain View senior who is turning 18 in May. "The big thing is going to be can we keep the momentum going? Can we get people registered to vote and out to vote in November? If we can do that, I think we have a real shot at transforming this into actual action at the federal and state levels."

[RELATED: ‘We deserve better:’ 17-year-old activist joins legislators calling for gun control laws]

[RELATED: Activists, Democratic lawmakers push for action on gun bills]

[RELATED: What is Arizona doing about gun control?]

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