Saugus Students Demand Action hold carnival to raise awareness

Photo courtesy of Saugus Students Demand Action

Students, teachers, supporters of gun reform and their families gathered at the Wear Orange Family Carnival held by the Saugus Students Demand Action on Sunday in Valencia. 

The carnival was held at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church and attendees were asked to wear orange to the event. Mia Tretta, main action leader for SDA’s community group and Saugus High School student, explained why.  

“So Wear Orange Week is National Gun Violence Awareness Week,” said Tretta, who was wounded in the November 2019 shooting at Saugus High. “It’s kind of put on by Every Town [for Gun Safety] and a bunch of other organizations as a week to kind of show… this cause is happening… and we’re trying to fix something and it’s to celebrate all the activism that’s been done up to this point and all the activism that will happen this next year.” 

According to Wear Orange’s website, Wear Orange Week began in 2015 on what would have been 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton’s 18th birthday. In 2013, Pendleton was shot and killed on a playground in Chicago. Shortly after, Pendleton’s friends wore orange to honor her, as it is the color hunters wear to prevent themselves from being shot.  

Tretta said that although the carnival was for kids, it was also for parents to come pick up resources and information.  

“We put on a carnival where kids can go play and get prizes and get snacks and food and parents can get information about voting, about how to join Every Town [for Gun Safety], how to get their kids and students in action, how to safely store their guns,” said Tretta. “So just kind of a little bit of something for both parents and kids.” 

Bridgette Martinez, a school counselor at Santa Clarita Elementary School, said that she knew many of the family members of those killed in the 2019 Saugus High shooting and that she’s proud of how students have responded since that day.  

“I’m proud of them,” said Martinez. “Because, yeah, their lives were forever altered. You know, they had went through an incredibly traumatic experience. The community as a whole… went through an incredibly traumatic experience. So these recent events sort of take us back to that and shine a light on it and it’s really… really unfortunate. As somebody who supports kids it’s disheartening that the level of support they’ve had is getting lessened instead of increased.” 

Rylie Murphy, a recent graduate of West Ranch High School, said she showed up to the event because she felt that if a school shooting can happen at Saugus High, it can happen anywhere.  

“Kids deserve to feel safe in school and be safe in school,” said Murphy. “Someone has to get out here and do work for it and if our politicians aren’t going to, we’re just going to try to bring attention so people will be more encouraging to these people who are putting laws in place that could potentially protect us.” 

Tretta noted that although she doesn’t believe in arming teachers as a solution to school shootings, she also doesn’t believe in an outright ban on guns, either.  

“It’s not ‘no guns,’ it’s regulation. It’s maybe older age requirements [and] background checks and safe storage and banning ghost guns,” said Tretta. “It’s not saying nothing will ever happen again. No solution will say that for sure… It’s to make sure that we feel safe at school.”

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