“March For Our Lives” comes to Greensboro


Logo courtesy of Sreya Halder

Greensboro teens say enough is enough. They are planning. They are organizing. They are acting.

A group of high school students in Greensboro are coordinating a regional March For Our Lives event on Saturday, March 24, in response to the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where suspected gunman Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people and injured 17 more.

“Students’ lives are being put in danger every day, and the worst of that was shown in Parkland,” said Anne Joy Cahill-Swenson, a first-year at Grimsley High School and team coordinator for the march. “Our politicians right now seem to care more about gun rights than our right to live, and that is really causing this movement.”

Students involved in planning the Greensboro march come from many different schools, including Grimsley High School, Philip J. Weaver Education Academy, the Early College at Guilford, Northwest Guilford High School, New Garden Friends School, Greensboro Day School, Walter Hines Page Senior High School, Northern Guilford High School and the Academy at Lincoln.

Dominic Patafie, a home-schooled senior and the communications organizer for the event, was impacted by the Parkland shooting on a personal level.

“It really hit me hard when I found out about the shooting in Parkland,” Patafie said. “I know I don’t know anyone there in Florida, but that could’ve been one of my friends or my little sister or me. I’m not going to wait until something happens here to get involved. I’m going to try to stop it.”

Cahill-Swenson spoke about the specific goals for the Greensboro March For Our Lives event.

“There are two main things that we want,” said Cahill-Swenson. “The more general one is to bring awareness to this issue and to bring awareness to the fact that kids are scared in school everyday, and that needs to change. But I think secondly, we want a bill to be brought before Congress to address this issue.”

School shootings have become a threat many schools prepare for. While fire, tornado and other emergency drills have been commonplace in schools since around the 1950s, lockdown drills only have been practiced in schools since the mid-to-late 2000s. Students in high school today have grown up with these school shooter drills, and now they are organizing March For Our Lives events across the nation.

Early College senior Sydney Pierce, the scheduling organizer for the march, is inspired by the energy young people have been harnessing.

“I’m so inspired by the student-led activism that is happening all over the country,” Pierce wrote in an email interview with The Guilfordian. “If the school walkouts on (March 14) are any indication, the youth of America are mad and passionate about increasing gun control and safety in schools in public places.”

The students involved in the movement do not plan to halt their efforts to enact change after the march.

“What makes this event so important is that we are putting pressure on our government to finally act after a tragedy like this. We want to show them that this has outstanding community support from a majority of Americans,” said Patafie. “A lot of us are old enough to register to vote. The march is great, but even more important is finding a candidate who cares about this issue and getting out the vote.”

Pierce encouraged students to stay passionate about the movement.

“I really hope that every student involved in a walkout takes the next step,” wrote Pierce. “Either registering to vote, coming out to a local March For Our Lives, campaigning and raising money for candidates that support gun control reform, anything as long as they don’t stop the fight at the walkout.”

The event will be at Governmental Plaza in downtown Greensboro. It will feature speakers and is expected to continue from 2 p.m. until around 6 p.m.

“Rain or shine, we’ll be out there,” said Patafie. “We’ll be out there marching.”