Park City students prep to put on ‘March For Our Lives’
When students around the country stepped back to class after walking out for 17 minutes last week, they were not quite ready to toss their signs and megaphones to the side.
On Saturday, students and adults will gather to participate in March For Our Lives, coordinated demonstrations throughout the country calling for an end to gun violence. Park City students are raising their voices along with their peers and holding their own march.
“Congress isn’t doing anything, so students are taking it into their own hands to send a message,” said Maya Levine, a junior at Park City High School who is the main organizer for Park City’s March For Our Lives.
That message is to demand increased restrictions on the purchase of guns so they do not end up in the wrong hands, Levine said.
She said that the march is scheduled to begin at the top of Main Street at 10 a.m. Marchers will go north down the street until taking a right on 7th Street, leading them through the Marriott’s Summit Watch plaza onto Poison Creek Trail. The route will end at the City Park Bandstand, where a rally will take place.
Five Park City High School students and two student survivors from the shooting last month at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, are expected to participate during the rally, which is scheduled to last about 40 minutes. They will address the importance of gun legislation to prevent mass shootings and youth suicide.
The Parkland students, sisters Logan and McKenna Pfahl, planned to visit Park City during their spring break. They are missing the March For Our Lives in Washington, D.C., where most of their classmates will be, but they still wanted to participate in the nationwide event.
McKenna Pfahl, a freshman, said that it has been empowering to see students standing up and demanding change around the country. She said that the main message she wants to share with students here is, “I stand with you.”
She said that having six of her friends — along with several other peers and teachers — killed in a mass school shooting means she has a responsibility to speak out.
“I lost close friends, teammates, people I’ve done Brownies and Girl Scouts with ever since I was little,” she said. “Now they don’t have a voice, and I want to speak out so this doesn’t happen again.”
Her sister Logan Pfahl, a sophomore, agreed, even if being an activist immediately after surviving a traumatic event proved difficult. She said she is excited to stand unified with students in Park City who are supporting a cause that she and her school helped start.
The Park City High students who plan to speak at the rally are Serena Haas, Sadie Ortiz, Teia Swan and Adam Herbst, Levine said. Olivia Henry, a senior who spoke at the school walkout, is also expected to give a speech or musical performance.
Although the march in Park City is organized by students, it is open to everyone, because it is a protest of all gun violence, not just attacks in schools, Levine said.
She said that part of the reason she has taken the helm is because she remembers hearing about mass shootings, especially at schools, her whole life. After the shooting in Las Vegas during a concert last fall, she was shaken. Then the Parkland shooting happened and something inside of her changed.
“When I watched the videos of high schoolers screaming and fearing for their lives curled up on the floor, that really hit home for me because that could easily be me,” she said. “Someone could easily walk into this school anytime, any day, and kill a ton of people.”
When she saw that no other Park City student stepped up to organize a march, she felt the responsibility to do so.
“I felt like the organization and the march, it should be done by students because it is for students,” she said. “We can’t have adults saying what we should and shouldn’t do when people are walking into schools almost every 63 hours and shooting children that are innocent.”
She said she is glad students are standing up and becoming more interested in political discussions about school safety and gun legislation. She has heard from students in Park City that they no longer feel hopeless. Since she is only 16 years old she, like many other students participating in the march, will not be eligible to vote in this year’s elections, but being able to march and speak to an audience allows her to still voice her opinions.
“It’s a way to continue the fight and continue making our voice loud so that Congress can hear us and will eventually, hopefully, listen to us and hear what we have to say,” she said. “With having all of these events perfectly spread out, it allows our voices to be heard and continued to be heard.”
The event is expected to attract more than 1,000 people. Levine said that people should plan to arrive at 9:15 a.m.
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The Park City Board of Education is on track to place a bond on the ballot this fall to improve district facilities. The top priorities would be to put ninth grade in the high school, eighth grade in the middle school and to augment preschool offerings by expanding elementary schools.