Santa Clarita Valley students plan local ‘March For Our Lives’

Valencia High School students march to Santa Clarita City Hall to raise awareness about lives lost as a result of school shootings on Wednesday, March 14, 2018. Austin Dave/The Signal
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As students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School plan the first March For Our Lives in Washington, D.C., students in the Santa Clarita Valley are also working together to organize their own march at Marketplace Park next weekend.

“We’re really, really trying to stay away from discussing gun control at all… We’re leaving all the laws and legislative discussions to people in the government. We just want to go to schools and feel safe,” Valencia High School senior and event host Ally Sagardia said. “We want anybody, regardless of your political beliefs, to come together for this common cause that school should be a safe place for us.”

Endorsed by the larger March For Our Lives organization, the Santa Clarita Valley March for Our Lives will unite with hundreds of others throughout the country and will focus on petitioning lawmakers to make students’ lives and safety a priority.

“Whether you’re on the right or the left, we should all come together and understand that this is bigger than us,” Sagardia said. “This is about children, staff and teachers losing their lives at a place they need to be safe.”

Instead of pushing for stricter gun control legislation, the SCV March For Our Lives will focus on a demand for safer schools throughout the country.

“I think the problem is that a lot of people think that this needs to be a political thing and it doesn’t need to be,” Sagardia said. “No one is saying we want to take guns away. All we’re saying is we need a safe place to learn. We need to go to school and not be scared of what is going to walk through the door.”

Open to community members of all ages, the SCV March For Our Lives will also include speeches from student leaders, an area for voter registration, a booth to create signs and posters, a table to write letters to representatives, an elementary school booth for anti-bullying and food trucks for attendees.

“I’m looking forward to this march because I want the ones who have been forgotten by most to know that they have not been forgotten by us. I want the people who are standing up to know that we are standing up with them,” Valencia High School senior Dylynn Abbey said. “I’m looking forward to having my voice heard and hopefully, inspiring others to do the same. Education is vital, and it will no longer be threatened.”

Organizing the event

After hearing about the Washington, D.C. month about a month ago, Sagardia decided she wanted to host a sister march in her community.

“When you go to Washington and are surrounded by so many people who have the same ideas as you, you’re almost speaking to the choir,” Sagardia said. “But in Santa Clarita, where there are people who disagree with you and are generally more conservative, your message is louder and can have more of an impact.”

Sagardia began organizing with groups of students at Valencia High School who then shared the idea with students from other high schools throughout the Santa Clarita Valley.

Now, more than 40 high school students of all grade levels are working together to finalize the logistics and plans for next week’s event.

“I am looking forward to the march because civic engagement is something I am very passionate about and want to encourage other students to pursue, to remind those around us that our ideas our valid and deserve to be heard,” Valencia High School sophomore Julianna Lozada said.

On Wednesday, the organizers help their first, major planning meeting as they worked to determine the location of the event’s stage and booths, and to organize volunteers into committees.

Then on Thursday, Sagardia joined in on a conference call, arranged by the Everytown organization, and spoke with organizers of other March For Lives events around the country.

“That was amazing to hear the stories of kids my age doing the exact same thing,” Sagardia said. “We all have similar platforms because the actual Parkland students have a whole format of how they want this to look so we’re all following similar march design. We all have similar things going on going on around the country.”

Now, the SCV March For Our Lives event planners are confirming the event’s speakers and advertising the event to the public.

“Attendance is going to be key to show the unity that we have,” Sagardia said. “I’m looking forward to it and think that this will be a big event.”

The SCV March For Our Lives will begin at 10 a.m. on March 24 at Marketplace Park, located at 23811 Newhall Ranch Rd. Parking for the event will be available at Real Life Church, Bridgeport Park, Bridgeport Elementary School and Hillsborough Parkway.

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