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Since Columbine in 1999, dozens of shootings on the campuses of colleges and elementary, middle and high schools in the United States have claimed the lives of more than 250 American children and adults. Ten of those shootings resulted in four or more deaths, or a total of more than 120 fatalities.

Reflect on those numbers.

Again, these are our schools. Places of learning and planning for the future, places filled with dreams and potential.

As a nation, we again this month confront the intersection of violence and education following 17 deaths in a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

This time, however, we bear witness to something extraordinary in the aftermath.

Students from Marjory Stoneman - organized, passionate, articulate - refuse to accept the status quo in the wake of the Feb. 14 tragedy visited upon them.

Through interviews, walkouts, rallies and protests, the Florida teens have, in remarkable fashion, immersed themselves in the debate about guns and created what appears to be a growing national movement of student activism, "Never Again." A march in Washington, D.C., is planned for next month.

We do not suggest these students possess all the answers to gun violence (Who does?), but we appreciate their frustration and anger as survivors of America's latest school mass shooting and we admire their courage and tenacity in speaking out.

It is, in fact, inspirational to watch leaders of tomorrow embrace their constitutional rights as citizens to challenge leaders - state and national - of today.

We don't know what, if anything the students will produce in terms of changes in thinking, laws or outcomes.

Without question, though, we believe they provide an important contribution to the national conversation on what is a complex, emotional issue. They should not be marginalized, they deserve to be respected and heard.


Opinion editor

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