As the bells at the Woodside Village Church rang to mark 10 a.m. on Wednesday morning, students at Woodside Elementary School began streaming out of the classrooms and heading across a soccer field toward the school's outdoor amphitheater.
Student council leaders read the names of the 17 victims of the recent Parkland, Florida, school shooting and asked for a moment of silence before inviting students to come onstage and share their thoughts.
Dozens filed up to the amphitheater stage as gray skies threatened to further dampen the solemn event, and one by one made short statements.
"We all start out as young kids with really big dreams," said one student. The slain Parkland students, however, will never get a chance to realize those dreams, the student said.
"These kids were just like all of us," said another student.
"All these people had lives ahead of them. They were all bright. It was just a horrible thing that happened to them," one said.
"Imagine what they were going through, imagine what they were thinking," said another.
"The safety that we have in this school is something that I think we all take for granted," said another student.
Superintendent Beth Polito said the event was student-led and organized, but sanctioned by the school administration, which offered to cover classrooms for any teachers who wished to participate. She saw students from third- to eighth-grade classes participating, she said.
"What happened that day was very tragic," one student said. "I'm really hoping that it never happens here, and it never happens again."
Noting that no one ever knows when he or she will lose a loved one, another student exhorted her fellow students to take the time to "tell someone you love that you love them."
The Almanac will be reporting on other local students' walkouts today in protest of gun violence.
• See a story on the Hillview Middle School protest here: 'One child is worth more than all the guns'