Students from at least three Missoula schools walked out of class at noon in Missoula in solidarity with teens from Florida who met with their state legislators in an effort to pass new gun laws.

Some of the signs held by students at Hellgate High School read: ‘Our Right to Live is Worth More than Your Right to Buy an AR-15’, ‘Life Over Guns’ and ‘Who’s School is Next’.

Hellgate Sign 5

Art teacher at Hellgate, Jeff Brown, who was escorting the students down Higgins toward the bridge, said a fire alarm went off inside the building just moments before the march was scheduled to begin, emptying the entire building.

“I found out today that the students were planning a march that was supposed to start at noon,” Brown said. “They were just going to get up and leave their classes, which would be fifth period, and go on a march. They had been making signs, ready to go.”

Hellgate KIds

Brown said when the students asked for his permission to leave class and march down Higgins, he explained the school’s policy on unexcused absences.

“Your parents will be notified that you were not present for class, but my guess is they already know. I’ve already heard the parents say ‘go for it’,” he said. “I’m not a spokesman for the school district, but they may say ‘well, we have to respond, you left school without permission, and so there will be detention. The last time this happened about six or seven years ago, the students went on a march and hundreds of kids spent their lunch in the gym.”

Students from Big Sky High School and Washington Middle School reportedly also left class in protest.