Community organization Saratoga Unites has reached its fundraising goal of $4,000 to bus Saratoga Springs High School students to Washington, DC, for this Saturday’s March for Our Lives, a protest aimed at ending “gun violence and mass shootings in our schools today,” and raising awareness in the nation’s capital among lawmakers there. Taking place tomorrow (March 24), the March for Our Lives is largely in response to the 18 school shootings in the US this year so far, including recent ones at Great Mills High School in Maryland and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. Saratoga Unites met its fundraising goal more than a week before the event.
This display of student activism follows the nationwide school walkout that took place last Wednesday, March 14. Hundreds of Saratoga Springs and Ballston Spa high school students participated, honoring the victims at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with 17 minutes of silence, one minute for each life lost. “I think now we aren’t taking no for an answer, and we are demanding change,” Ballston Spa High School student Dominique Amézquita told The Saratogian. “This was not the last thing that we’re going to do, because we won’t stop until something changes.”
So far, local school administrators and government officials have been supporting the students in their effort to inspire new gun control legislation. “It was well thought out,” said Michael Patton, Saratoga Springs City School District Superintendent, about Wednesday’s walkout. “We had feedback from the students and engaged with law enforcement just to make sure it was going to be a safe and orderly event,” says Patton. “It went off exactly the way that we would hope for. The students were extremely respectful; listened; and the speakers were very knowledgeable and passionate about first remembering the victims of Parkland, as well as the message that students want our schools to be safe.” And Patton says that’s “something as a school district we fully support.”
The Saratoga Springs City Council responded earlier this month by unanimously voting to ban gun shows and the sale of firearms and ammunition on city property. “The lives of our children have forever changed and as a public servant, a mother and a community advocate, we must set the example for creating action,” Mayor Meg Kelly recently told saratoga living. “Our children are speaking very clearly to us, and it is our job to empower them to help enact change.”