A small group of students chatted with U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Gainesville, via Skype after the protest. He told them he agreed with most of the gun-law changes they argued for, but not a ban on assault weapons.

Thousands of Alachua County public school students got up out of their seats to join millions of students in solidarity during the National School Walkout.

The official nationwide walkout began at 10 a.m. Wednesday and lasted 17 minutes to honor the 17 students and staff members killed Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Roughly 4,500 students in Alachua County public schools held memorials to celebrate the lives of the victims and survivors of the Parkland massacre, School Board spokeswoman Jackie Johnson said. Most of the events were held on the interior of campuses, with students gathering in police-protected “safe-zones,” and no one from outside the school community, including media, was allowed to enter.

"Everything went very, very smoothly," she said.

Close to 50 students from various schools, mostly Trilogy School, a private school in northwest Gainesville, met at Buchholz High School to march down Northwest 27th Avenue with parents and others to the local office of U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Gainesville. Some Buchholz students joined them.

Upon arrival at Yoho’s office in the Northwest Professional Center, red and white roses were placed in glass vases to honor the massacre victims.

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The march was organized by Indivisible Gainesville, Gainesville/Ocala chapter of Women’s March and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

Gainesville resident Sandy Parker presided over the group with a megaphone, passing it between political candidates, parents and students who wished to address the crowd. Buchholz junior Roderick Jackson read a poem about gun violence and congressional inaction. Westwood Middle School student Resli Ward read a prepared speech that brought some to tears.

Jackson read a poem he wrote titled "People Perish Peacefully."

The last stanza of the poem read "Change legislation to end the devastation before this becomes education." 

Worries about a school shooting has led Resli and some of her classmates to talk about what would happen during a shooting at her school or other schools, she said.

"Can you imagine being a 5-year-old hiding in a classroom wondering if a lockdown was real or not?" the 13-year-old asked.

After short speeches by students, politicians, officials from the organizing groups and others, five students went into Yoho’s office to talk with him about school safety and gun control legislation via Skype.

The students sat around a table and Yoho behind his desk in the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. The students told Yoho they wanted he and his colleagues to do something to make schools safer and gun control laws tougher.

"I want you to make people have background checks before they can buy a gun and increase the age required for people to buy a gun," Resli said. 

The students also told Yoho they would like to see ordinary people be blocked from buying assault rifles, and more funding allocated for mental health services and school security.

Yoho said he agreed with all of those things — except the ban on assault rifles. Yoho told the students to educate themselves on the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and to find out more about guns and gun safety as they continue advocating for school safety and gun control legislation.

All of the gun control legislation in the world won’t keep people determined to do harm to others from doing so, Yoho emphasized throughout the hourlong meeting.

The students took exception to that.

"You can make it harder for people to be bad people," Jackson said. 

Bryan Jackson, a 17-year-old senior at Gainesville High School, told Yoho it was important to him that politicians listen to and respect students’ opinions.

After hearing Yoho say he enjoys shooting AR 15s, the weapon used in the Parkland massacre, and other types of guns because he is a sport shooting enthusiast, 18-year-old GHS senior Paige Wearrien asked him if her life, the lives of his three children and others were worth his right to enjoy sport shooting.

"No," Yoho replied.

Max Asseng, a 17-year-old junior at Eastside High School, said he and his fellow students could have been more informed on the issues they discussed with Yoho, but felt the meeting was worthwhile.

"I think it’s an important dialogue to have even if it doesn’t result in anything," Asseng said.

Roderick Jackson said he was disappointed in what he heard from Yoho.

"It was unsatisfying to hear some of the comments he made," he said. "There needs to be a greater amount of compromise."

Near the end of the meeting, Yoho said he would love, with their parents' permission, to take the students to a gun range to experience sport shooting.

"I would never hold an instrument that could possibly kill someone in my hand," Resli said. Yoho then quietly chided her, saying she had likely never held a knife or fork.

Jessica Norfleet, director of Yoho’s district office, encouraged the students to keep in mind they and Yoho agreed on some things.

"Don’t focus on what you didn’t have in common, but on what you all have in common with the congressman," Norfleet said.

During the speeches outside of Yoho’s office, Brianna Allen, 12, told the group she has seen gun violence.

"I saw a man get shot to death in a drive-by shooting in my neighborhood in Holly Heights," said Brianna, a seventh-grader at Trilogy School, which serves students in kindergarten through 12th grade. "I want something to be done so me and other children don't have to see things like that in our neighborhoods and schools."