By Eva Barrows
Paul George of the Peninsula Peace and Justice Center interviews Woodside and Carlmont high school students who led the March 24, 2018 “March for Our Lives” rally against gun violence in Redwood City. The marchers gathered at Courthouse Square where an estimated 4,000 student and adult protestors in attendance. The rally was one of over 800 that took place on the same day under the national movement started by the survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting in Parkland, Florida.
Three student organizers of the local rally share their thoughts on being leaders of student protest against gun violence on the show, “Other Voices: Welcome Revolution.” Sophie Penn is the editor-in-chief of digital content at Carlmont High School’s journalism department. Along with her student staff, she produced a video of the rally highlighting the youth protestors leading chants, waving signs and making their statements heard through speeches to the crowd. Stefan Sujansky, student government representative at Woodside High School, took the views of his constituents into consideration when he helped plan a student gun violence walkout. His drive to get involved with student protests came from the genuine fear he and other students felt after the largest high school massacre of his lifetime occurred. Sequoia Union High School District Student Trustee and voting board member, Ria Calcagno wants to be a partner and supporter for standing up against gun violence. She noticed that the Parkland school shooting created a momentum for change that she wanted to help keep in the public eye.
Local city officials encouraged the high school leaders to coordinate and engage the student population to participate in the “March for Our Lives” rally. After securing the necessary permits and helping settle logistical issues, the city officials wanted the voice of the students to be the focus of the event. The students worked to keep the discussion about gun control open to dialog and different opinions. Local students were able to participate and speak to the crowd.
In order to continue the momentum of the movement for change, the graduating senior leaders are training younger students to take their place before they go off to college. Ria Calcagno will be going to Stanford and will serve as an advisor to the next generation of student high school leaders. The next event the student leaders are working on will take place August 4th at Redwood City’s Courthouse Square and will focus on registering young people to vote. The students stress that it’s important to follow what’s been done within all levels of government to change and create gun laws that will protect citizens. Learning how to vote and being an educated voting population will lead to representatives in office who are ready to make necessary changes.