If someone invaded the Whetstone High School campus with a gun in his hands and murder on his mind, how would teachers react?

That was the topic of a recent discussion between Sierra Bell and other Whetstone students -- but the subject didn't sit well with Bell.

"We shouldn't have to have that conservation," she said.

Bell was speaking in the aftermath of a 17-minute student walkout at Whetstone that she, along with Rayshon Walker and Evenson Desir, organized the morning of March 14, marking the one-month anniversary of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead.

Thousands of student walkouts, protests and calls for gun-law changes and improved student safety were planned that day across the United States and around the world, including many in central Ohio, from Delaware to Grove City.

Columbus City Schools officials declared March 14 "Safer Together Day," and activities took place at every building, said Scott J. Varner, executive director of strategic communications and public relations.

"On Safer Together Day, students and staff in all of our buildings will be invited to participate in educational, inspiring and thought-provoking activities that center on safety in our schools and in our communities," the announcement said.

The activities varied by school. At Centennial High School, students marched onto the football field and tied ribbons on the fence. They were joined by Columbus City Councilwoman Elizabeth C. Brown.

Beechcroft High School's walkout started in the gym and ended in a rally outside, during which 17 balloons were released.

Students at Northland High School were joined by local radio personalities for special programming, followed by a march around the stadium track.

"It was a pretty powerful day and allowed our students to be part of the national movement, if they choose," Varner wrote in an email.

At Whetstone, the walkout began with a solemn march as two drummers played a somber cadence in the hallways and students followed behind.

Students emerged from the building precisely at 10 a.m., huddling together in the chill to listen to a song and hear from Principal Janet L. Routzong.

"Hashtag?" she asked.

"Enough!" was the full-throated response.

"This is a very serious cause that we're supporting," Desir said.

Walker read a poem he had composed, titled "Enough Is Enough."

"Education should be free, with no fear," he said. "I can't be silent anymore."

After brief remarks by the three organizers, they opened the microphone to anyone who wanted to speak.

"This is upsetting, what's been going on," said Julian Ackerman.

Tori Corey said she's tired of waking up every morning fearing danger in a place where she shouldn't have to worry about being harmed: her school.

"Plain and simple, we don't feel safe" she said.

"I think it is up to us to make a change," Gabriel Engler told the crowd. "There's a lot of talk but not a lot of action."

After the final speaker, Bell asked the students to observe 17 seconds of silence -- one for each of the victims at Parkland.

"I couldn't be more proud of you at this moment," Routzong said before leading a "reverse fire drill" to get students back into the building.

Two days after the walkout, Routzong said she was in "awe and amazement" at the students' efforts.

"I thought it really, really went well," she said. "It gave me chills when we started with the hall march, and then to see the number of students who participated and continued with the silent march out to the back patio.

"They were very, very intentional about their participation and wanting to make a statement, wanting to see a change, wanting to be a part of that change."

kparks@thisweeknews.com

@KevinParksTW1