DENVER — On the first day of their summer break, students from Northfield High School gathered on the west steps of the state Capitol.
They held signs calling for stricter gun control measures in response to the deadly shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas and an incident at their own school.
“I know a lot of my peers, they envisioned themselves at a pool or maybe spending time with their family, but I’m so grateful that everyone that showed up today is here and that they’re here for a cause," said Maluhola Maka, a rising senior at Northfield High School.
Maka shouted into a megaphone from the Capitol steps Friday afternoon and led her classmates in a series of chants. Students also took turns at a microphone to talk about the lingering fear from their last day of school.
“I’m afraid to go back next year," said Lauren Fischer, a rising junior at Northfield High School. I’m afraid to go to school next year.”
As police responded to an incident at Northfield High School on Thursday involving what turned out to be a paintball gun, Fischer said she was huddled underneath a table inside a chemistry classroom.
“I have never felt that amount of fear at school before and I never want to feel it again," Fischer said.
The school was placed on lockdown and eventually closed for the remainder of the day. Denver Police took two boys into custody and recovered a paintball gun.
The incident took place as students were taking final exams and just hours away from their summer break.
“There’s no scenario where school should start or end that way," Fischer said. "Nobody should have to go through that.”
Fischer joined her classmates at the Capitol Friday. She didn't expect to speak at the microphone, but words from fellow students inspired her to share her own thoughts.
“If I didn’t speak, then that’s one less person speaking out," Fischer said. “This is a problem. People need to fix it.”
SUGGESTED VIDEOS: Texas elementary school shooting