Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School students hold signs they plan to bring to D.C.

Updated at 1:38 p.m.: Hundreds of Montgomery County students joined others from around Washington, D.C., in a silent, 17-minute protest Wednesday morning at the White House in memory of the people who were killed in the Parkland high school shooting one month ago. 

The students sat in silence at 10 a.m. on Pennsylvania Avenue with their backs to the White House to honor the 17 victims of the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneham Douglas High School in Florida. The demonstration was part of a national walkout in which thousands of students participated across the country. 

Meanwhile, students at some county public high schools walked out of classes for 17 minutes to honor the victims or participated in events organized by school officials. At Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, students headed to D.C. while dozens of others walked out at 10 a.m. and sat in the school’s bus zone to honor the Parkland students with a 17-minute demonstration. Several students stood among those who were seated, holding orange balloons and posters bearing a photo and the name of a student who was killed, according to The Black & White, the school’s newspaper.  

More than an hour earlier, hundreds of students who were waving signs and chanting, had walked out of Montgomery Blair High School and onto Colesville Road on Wednesday morning as they headed to the Silver Spring Metro station, where they planned to board trains and travel to D.C. for planned rally in support of stricter gun control.

Montgomery County police officers on motorcycles and in cruisers escorted the students, who had been advised to walk on the sidewalk and in one lane of traffic. As the students crossed intersections that had been blocked by police, car horns honked apparently in support of the marchers.

The Blair students were joined at the White House by hundreds of others from county schools including Walt Whitman, Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School and Kensington’s Albert Einstein High School. The march marks the second time that county students have walked out since the Parkland shooting. On Feb. 21, more than 1,000 students walked out and headed to Capitol Hill, where they were greeted by U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin before walking to the White House. 

At Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, dozens of students began walking out after 9 a.m. Wednesday.

“I’m trying to get as many students as I can out to show support and solidarity with the Parkland students and their families,” said student organizer and senior Olivia McCarren. “It’s really important that we get the younger generations out and push them to vote in 2018 and 2020 elections so we can push out politicians that are bought and owned by the NRA because that’s the first step to making effective change on gun control legislation.”

Will Lucas, a graduate of St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Potomac, was carrying sign that said “Fear has no place in our schools” as he waited for a train to D.C. at the Bethesda Metro station. “I don’t believe that anyone should die in their schools, anyone should be scared of their schools,” said Lucas, who attends New York University. “We have an obligation to fight for our rights and to protect ourselves.”

The student rally is part of a national walkout. While most students in the U.S. planned to participate by walking out of their schools at 10 a.m., county teens decided to observe their 17 minutes outside of the White House.

“We wanted this to get some national attention,” said Daniel Gelillo, a student organizer who attends Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville.

For weeks, student representative from schools in the county, D.C. and Virginia have been organizing the event; which was not sanctioned locally by Montgomery County Public School officials. The school system announced this week that students who left school grounds would receive an unexcused absence. Some schools had been organizing events to provide an option to students leaving campus.

At Blair, the school observed 17 minutes of silence at 10 a.m. while students remained in class.


Julie Rasicot

Julie Rasicot can be reached at