Shirts displayed outside Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School commemorating teen victims of gun violence. Credit: Joe Zimmermann

Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith has sent out a letter to the community addressing the possibility of a school walkout Friday.

In the message circulated Thursday evening, Smith said he’s heard some students are planning to leave campus without permission as part of a national demonstration on school safety.

“While we continue to support student advocacy, we want students who choose to engage in the civic process to do so while at school, in a learning environment that is supportive and safe,” he wrote.

Montgomery County Public Schools staff and school administrators have been working with students to create opportunities for young people to express themselves without leaving the school, he added.

Students in Montgomery County and across the nation in recent months have organized demonstrations and walkouts in support of strengthening gun control laws. Friday’s walkout coincides with the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting, in which 12 students and one teacher were killed during a rampage by two students at a Colorado high school.

On Friday morning, students had placed about 200 white t-shirts on the fence outside Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. Each shirt bore a person’s name and their age. Above the shirts were signs reading “Memorial to Our Lives” and “199 Teens Gunned Down in 2018.”