Middle school students from Cleveland charter school participating in National School Walkout

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Citizens Leadership Academy, a charter school in Cleveland, is joining Wednesday's National School Walkout in protest of gun violence.

More than 300 sixth, seventh and eighth grade students have been preparing for the peaceful demonstration for weeks.

The school's mission is to prepare students to lead in academics, service and civic engagement.

"If it don't stop now, it's going to keep happening," said Ahmad Gordon, a sixth grade student at Citizens Leadership Academy's East Campus.

Ahmad and his classmates want community violence and school violence to end.

"I just want people to get the message that guns is not really the answer to anything," Ahmad said.

Tuesday, the students were finishing up posters that they'll be carrying during the walkout. Written on them are powerful statements including "Students Lives Matter", "Protect Children, Not Guns", and "#SAFE."

While not knowing all the answers, student-after-student said there's too many guns on the streets.

Violence is a reality many of them see all too often- where they live and on the news. The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School forced teachers and students into emotional discussions.

"The most surprising to me (is) how numb our country is to gun violence," said Alex Gordon, a teacher at Citizens Leadership Academy East Campus. "Because when we started talking about this... in my mind an 11-year-old should be taken aback by 17 people being shot. However, this was normal."

Alex Gordon is one of the many teachers who spent weeks helping students research topics surrounding gun violence and community activism. The teachers have been teaching the kids about how peaceful protests have shaped American history.

"Wanting to make change on a policy level (and) on a national and federal level is really inspiring for 11, 12, 13-year-olds," Alex Gordon said.

Ahmad said he wants the national walkout to become a defining moment. He said otherwise, "More lives are going to be taken away."

Students from Citizens Leadership Academy's campus in the Glenville Neighborhood will be marching to their local library branch. There, they'll hold a program honoring the 17 victims from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and other victims of gun violence.

Students from the school's campus in the Hough neighborhood will be marching to Wade Oval Park.

Teachers and administrators will be joining the students for the peaceful protest.

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