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Thousands of South Jersey students will leave their classrooms at 10 a.m. Wednesday to participate in memorial and protest events as part of a national movement started after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

The walkout commemorates one month since the shooting that took the lives of 17 people. The events will not only serve as a memorial for those who died Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School but will double as a protest against gun violence.

The #Enough National School Walkout, organized under the umbrella of the Women’s March, was created by a collective of teenage students across the country called Youth Empower. Wednesday’s is the first of several national events, including a March 24 March for Our Lives created by the Parkland survivors and an April 20 National School Walkout Day created by a Connecticut student.

Mary Loteck, 15, of Upper Township, is organizing a protest at Ocean City High School during which students will march out onto the football field for a 45-minute demonstration.

“To be a student in America right now, it’s so empowering to see the students rose up in Florida,” Loteck said. “It’s really important that students my age are paying attention to what’s happening because we’re the next senators and presidents and politicians.”

Egg Harbor Township High School, Atlantic City High School, Pleasantville High School, Atlantic County Institute of Technology, Mainland Regional High School and Middle Township High School have also committed to holding a walkout event Wednesday. Some of them are organized by the students, while others are an effort by both staff and students.

Hammonton, Cedar Creek and Vineland high schools have planned for students to demonstrate in the hallways. Vineland has warned students they may face disciplinary action if they leave the building.

“Students that make the choice to leave the building will be considered defiant and disciplined according to the district’s code of conduct,” reads an email from district.

Last month, nearly 1,000 students at Southern Regional High School and 1,000 more at the district middle school participated in a student-organized walkout to protest gun violence and memorialize the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

For more information on the walkouts and march, see womens march.com, national schoolwalkout.us and marchforourlives.com.

Contact: 609-272-7251 CLowe@pressofac.com Twitter @clairelowe

I began covering South Jersey in 2008 after graduating from Rowan University with a degree in journalism. I joined The Press in 2015. In 2013, I was awarded a NJPA award for feature writing as a reporter for The Current of Hamilton Township.