The Impact of March for Our Lives and the Students of Parkland

Words: Maddie Wirebach

I don’t think I can adequately express the sheer power and passion that radiated through every single inch of Pennsylvania Avenue. There are just no words to describe the feelings I felt as I stood in solidarity with hundreds of thousands of people, proudly and peacefully demonstrating our desire for change. I felt empowered, yet enraged standing in the shadow of the Capitol building, the very building in which so little action is being taken to end this senseless violence. I was so happy to be a part of the march, but my heart sank every time the cause of the movement crossed my mind.

I watched as performers I love took the stage and sang beautiful songs. It was hard to fight back tears as I listened to the heartbreaking stories of kids who have been directly affected by gun violence.

The most powerful moment for me was when Parkland survivor Emma Gonzalez stepped onto the stage. Her statements echoed down the avenue, the crowd totally enamored and hanging on her every last word. And she left us hanging: in utter silence for minutes. The stillness lingered as the crowd watched and waited for Gonzalez’s next word. But she just stood, eyes burning into the lens of the camera, her face stone cold, yet filled with passion, rage, and unrest.

Gonzalez’s silence, in retrospect, is quite symbolic of my lack of words. In some cases, there are moments that simply cannot be recreated with words.

For me, her silence said more than anything words could say. Those minutes of silence allowed my mind to be flooded with a million thoughts, but at the same time, none. In that time, I genuinely understood why I was at the march. I knew I was there because I am tired of seeing kids like me being senselessly killed. I was there because not a day goes by where I don’t think “Am I next? Is Centennial next?”

If you think about it, our school is no different than Marjory Stoneman Douglas. In fact, we are extremely similar, right down to the exact same mascot. We are as much the home of the eagles as MSD is, making this even closer to home. The impact and courage of our fellow eagles has spread and inspired students at Centennial, including juniors Jen Solan and Matt Sorak.

Solan applauds the students for displaying the strength our generation holds.

“The actions of the students are a demonstration of the power and potential of our generation,” Solan noted.

“[They] are actively sharing their voices in a mature and effective way that emphasizes the validity and importance of their opinion,” continued Solan.

Sorak admired the opportunity the MSD students have created for our voices to be heard.

“I think high schoolers across the country finally feel like there’s a chance to change; that maybe we won’t have to be scared anymore.”

The march is something I will never forget, especially Gonzalez’s parting words: “Fight for your life before it’s someone else’s job.”

That’s why it is so important to do all that you can right now. Register to vote, write to your representatives, because something needs to change.

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