Students at Brunswick High School organized one of the largest walkout events in Frederick County. Around 300 students registered to participate in the peaceful protest against gun violence.
9:45 a.m. A Brunswick Police Department cruiser pulls up to the main entrance of Brunswick High School. Cpl. Jacki Druktenis joins Frederick County Sheriff’s Deputy Allen Herrmann — the school resource officer — to monitor the walkout.
9:55 a.m. Student organizers set up for the event outside the school auditorium. Students will spend 17 minutes writing letters to lawmakers and other leaders, followed by a period of silence to memorialize the 17 victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
The leaders include Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), U.S. Rep. John Delaney (D-6th), and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.
9:57 a.m. 16-year-old Loretta Donoghue, a junior, is one of four students who organized the walkout. She and her fellow coordinators are wearing orange, a color promoted by the advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety.
“We just want something to change,” Donoghue said. “I don’t want to come to school and fear for my life. I don’t want to hear the fire alarm and think there’s a shooter.”
In the days that followed the Parkland shooting, she said, Principal Mike Dillman went from classroom to classroom to explain the school’s active-shooter procedure.
10 a.m. Students begin to file into the auditorium. Most take slips of paper explaining the letter-writing campaign and urging students to write, email, or tweet at legislators to tell them that school violence matters to them.
10:05 a.m. Donoghue turns to senior Samantha Campbell, 17, another organizer.
“This is so many people!” she exclaims.
“I’m so proud of you,” Campbell responds.
“I’m so proud of you!” Donoghue says.
10:08 a.m. Organizers take the stage to explain the purpose of the event. The 17-minute letter-writing period begins.
10:13 a.m. Gabrielle Bowie, Kallie Harrison and Aubrey Smothers, all 16-year-old sophomores, are writing their letters together.
“I just want to explain how lives are affected, and not just the victims,” Bowie said. “Students at other schools are scared or uneasy about going into the building and not coming home.”
Smothers doubted that the number of shootings would decrease without concrete legislative changes.
“It’s like the new normal,” he said. “Things might calm down for a few months, but then there’s another school shooting.”
10:19 a.m. Maggie Sharp, a 15-year-old sophomore, records the crowd of students with her cellphone. She plans to add the video to her Snapchat story.
“One of the major things that makes social media so positive is that it can spread the message about things that are happening nationally,” she said. “I think it’s really important that we’re doing this because we’re becoming a part of history.”
10:24 a.m. As students finish their letters, they leave the auditorium and sign a large orange banner that reads, “We pledge to spread kindness, not violence.”
10:27 a.m. The protesters squeeze into an outdoor courtyard for a group picture. They shiver against the wind, but smile broadly as Dillman shepherds them into frame. Organizers hold the banner in front of the group.
10:30 a.m. Senior Wesley Shores, 17, rings a brass bell 17 times in honor of each victim of the Parkland shooting. The students observe a moment of silence.
10:31 a.m. The walkout ends. Students break from the group, then stream inside the warm school building.