Gina Bernard, an English teacher at Bemidji High School, is tired of the grim cycle in which an act of mass gun violence is followed by a flood of "thoughts and prayers" condolences that soon die down until the next bloodbath.
And on March 14, she plans to do something about it.
Bernard is organizing a walkout at the high school as part of a national call for action spearheaded by the group Women's March Youth EMPOWER. Activists are encouraging students, teachers, school administrators and parents to take part in a 17-minute walkout at 10 a.m. March 14 to demand congressional action to end gun violence, according to organizers' online post.
From California to Texas to Maine, dozens of sites have popped up to declare they'll participate in the protest in the wake of the Florida high school shooting that left 17 people dead. Others on social media are rallying around a separate but similar national school walkout planned for April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting.
"It's just crazy that in our country, almost exclusively, people have to fear dropping their kids off and teachers like myself have to fear going into work and kids have to fear each other," Bernard, 48, said Saturday. "I'm hoping that it raises some awareness and puts some people on notice."
In Bemidji, Bernard said, the deadly Red Lake shootings still weigh heavily on people's minds. On March 21, 2005, Jeffrey Weise, 15, killed his grandfather, a tribal police officer, and his grandfather's girlfriend at their home on the Red Lake Reservation, then drove to Red Lake High School, where he killed seven people and wounded five others. He then killed himself.
Just days before Wednesday's killings in Florida, Bernard's students had gone through the school's active-shooter drill and talked about what they would do if gunfire broke out, weighing where to flee or where to take shelter.
Bernard isn't sure how many people will join next month's walk of solidarity to the school parking lot, but she plans to have a moment of silence and offer time for anyone who wishes to speak.
"It's important for me to make sure that my students feel like they're being heard and that they have a voice and that they can affect change," she said. "We're leaving them this America."