ST. CLOUD -- Students at Apollo High School, like thousands across the country, walked out of class Friday morning as part of a nationwide protest to end gun violence.

Students gathered on top of the walking bridge over Highway 15 holding signs, chanting, and hoping their message is heard.

"Gun violence is a huge problem in our society. The NRA cares more about guns than our lives."

The National Student Walkout comes on the 19th Anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting.

School officials at District 742 stated Thursday that any student who leaves class will be marked as an unexcused absence, per school rules. However, students protesting feel their message is worth the penalty.

"We'd rather have an unexcused absence than risk dying in a school shooting."

Tami DeLand with District 742 says a small group of students at North Junior High school also walked out of class as part of the movement.

This is the second walkout to happen in the last month. Students at Sartell-St. Stephen and ROCORI high schools walked out last month to honor the victims of the Parkland, Florida school shooting.