Seventeen single white roses were placed on seventeen empty desks for those who lost their lives in Parkland, Florida. Pairs of shoes were lined up on the grass, each signifying a school shooting — the reason for the March for Our Lives event that took place Saturday morning at Bridgeport Park in Valencia.
Amid the political angst, hundreds of students, families, teachers, survivors and community members from across the Santa Clarita Valley came together to join the hundreds of thousands across the nation in attempt to have safer gun laws and safer schools.
“We are all trying to show the people in the government and the people in charge that our lives mean more than what they are right now,” said Ally Sagardia, senior at Valencia High School and one of the organizers. “There should never be a time that we go to school and fear for our lives and that seems like a recurring theme in America now, and we need to stop that.”
Supporting the event was Moms Demand Action, a nonpartisan, grassroots organization fighting for common sense gun laws.
“We wanted to make sure that these kids are supported in every way that they can possibly be and we are making sure that their voices are being heard today, and that they can speak through us if they need,” explained Stacey Killinger, state legislative lead for Moms Demand Action. “All of these kids have really stood up against congress and against the federal government to really show that their lives matter. We need to support them, because all they are doing is asking for a little bit of help from adults and we want to make sure that they get their help and their support that they need.”
The event was comprised of speeches made from students, teachers, pastors, and families, each one expressing their views on the political climate and how their voices need to be heard in order to change the continuation of gun violence.
“We cannot let another mass shooting turn into another statistic, those we have lost at such a young are are not just numbers on a pie chart, they are human beings,” said Julianna Lozado, president of Santa Clarita Youth and Government. “Get engaged. Your ideas have a purpose, and will invoke change.”
Even the youngest of community members made their voices heard at the event. Samantha Armitage, a fifth-grader at Emblem Academy, explained what she hoped for in her future.
“I hope that when I’m in high school, I don’t ever have to fear for my life whenever I step onto a school campus,” she said, “and people in congress may have the power and control, but we have the influence and the voices to make a change.”
In addition to the students, political figures in Santa Clarita also made speeches, each explaining their own political agenda and what they hope, will bring voters out to the polls in order to start the change.
Once the speeches were finished, the crowd came together— signs in hand—to march down streets of Valencia, protesting for safer gun laws and for students’ lives, joining the countless marches across America.
“I think it shows that this isn’t just a group of students feeling one way,” said Sagardia, “but it’s the whole nation feeling this way, and it’s incredible that we can all come together and work on this cause.”