Students, supporters to 'march for their lives' this Saturday

Main march in Washington, with sister marches in the local area

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“For me, gun control really became an issue when the students in Parkland started speaking up. It really affected us — it wasn't just another shooting anymore.”
Zoe Heath, Vernon Township High School senior and organizer of Newton march


Students, families and supporters will take to the streets of Washington, DC, as well as communities across the country, on Saturday, March 24, as part of March For Our Lives, a day of events aimed at demanding government leaders to make ending gun violence and mass shootings in schools a priority.

The marches come on the heels of a shooting at Great Mills High School in Maryland on Tuesday, which left two students critically injured and the student gunman dead. The news is all too familiar for American students, including the survivors of the deadly mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida last month, many of which organized the nationwide march for comprehensive gun control legislation.

Emma González, one of the Stoneman Douglas shooting survivors and leading organizers of the March For Our Lives, tweeted Wednesday morning: “We are here for you, students of Great Mills. Together we can stop this from ever happening again.”

Local marchesWhile some local residents are travelling to the larger marches in DC and New York City, there are 830 sister marches and rallies planned in communities nationwide, including the local area.

In Sussex County, there is a march planned in Newton, organized by grassroots, progressive group Action Together Sussex County, as well as students from Sussex County schools. The march will be at the Newton Green, located at Route 206 & Route 94 at the end of Spring Street.

Zoe Heath, a senior at Vernon Township High School and one of the organizers of the Newton march, said that she's been involved in activism for a couple years now, but only recently has gun control become more of a focus.

“For me, gun control really became an issue when the students in Parkland started speaking up,” Heath said. “It really affected us — it wasn't just another shooting anymore.”

She said there is a lot of interest in her school, with kids making signs and coming up to ask her questions.

“For a lot of them, this is probably their first sort of civic engagement they've ever taken part in,” Heath said, “and I know at other schools it's similar. A lot of schools around the county walked out on March 14, so it's been exciting for a lot of people.”

Sophia Lavin, a fifth-grader at Hardyston Middle School, had a different view.

“I am marching for all the kids in my class that are scared to go to school," she said. "My hope is that people with mental problems get help. And there should be more counselors in the schools that specialize in different things.”

In Orange County, N.Y., a march and rally is planned in Middletown. Marchers will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday at the SUNY Orange parking lot #1, at the corner of Wawayanda and Grandview Avenues, and march down the South Street toward downtown.

The march will end at the future Erie Street Park (the open area next to the new skate park) where there will be a rally at 11 a.m. with speakers, including current students.

“The city officials are being phenomenal, the police force is being phenomenal and the Board of Ed,” said Mary Lou Deitrich, one of the organizers of the Middletown march. “We have a group of student organizers who have been making banners, making signs and helping us organize.”

Along with the speakers, there will be tables with informative literature available, as well as voter registration forms.

“I was a teacher for over 30 years and I am just appalled that nothing is being done about this crisis in our schools,” Deitrich said. “When we heard about 'thoughts and prayers' one more time, I just could not believe that they will not put stricter gun laws. We talk about the opioid crisis and how we have to get drugs out of the schools and out of the streets — I totally agree. Why isn't it the same for guns? We need to get these guns off the streets.”

More information about the marches and rallies can be found on Facebook and

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Glenn Erik Kelly
  • Jul 12, 2019


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