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Patrick Henry High School students host candlelight vigil to honor Florida shooting victims

ROANOKE, Va. – Some Roanoke City students banded together to remember the victims of the Parkland, Florida shooting and to encourage more conversation about guns in America.

Hundreds of miles away from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where a gunman killed 17 students and teachers, Patrick Henry High School students are honoring their memory. 

With the help of friends, 10th-grader Grace Whitehead organized Monday's candlelight vigil. Not only did she want to honor those lost but also encourage her fellow students to step up and speak out about school safety and gun violence. 

"There's been this ripple across the United States, of people standing up, especially high school students. We just think that it's a really important issue that we can do something about," said Whitehead.

Dozens of students, parents and community members stood silently on the front steps of Patrick Henry High School as students read the names of the victims, many of whom were the same age, maybe played the same sports, and sat in similar classrooms as Patrick Henry students.

"I think a lot of students are really scared, but I think if we can stand up and make a change it will help our future, and ensure a safe future for us all," said Whitehead.

After the candles were lit, 10th-grader Emery Perry read staggering statistics about gun violence in the United States. Perry said now is the time for legislators to start talking about gun control and be open to compromise to keep people safe. She also hopes students will speak up, too.

"They're the ones being affected by it. They're the ones that have a voice and they really need to use that to shine light on this issue and do something about  it," said Perry.

Monday's vigil was open to the public and was not sponsored by the school system.