BRIDGEWATER, NJ - For students at Bridgewater-Raritan High School and Bridgewater-Raritan Middle School, they are ready to speak out and fight for what they believe in to maintain their safety in their own schools.
Students and parents will be holding a march to speak out for gun control in the wake of the shooting in Parkland, Florida, and they are hoping that by speaking and marching for their rights, they can help inspire change.
The march will be held Sunday, starting at the Basilone field at Bridgewater-Raritan High School at 9 a.m.
From 9 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., Bridgewater Mayor Dan Hayes will say a few words, as will students and parents wanting to share their thoughts. The march itself will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., and it will conclude at Basilone Field with a chance for voter registrations and signing up to work with the Student Empowerment Committee.
“I feel that the importance of holding this march is bringing awareness for better gun control laws in the United States because with better laws on gun control, we could bring an end to tragedies like the Florida school shooting and much more,” said eighth grader Ahaan Limaye. “It feels great to see so many young people taking a stand for something as important as this.”
The March For Our Lives, according to the event’s Facebook page, is part of the #neveragain movement that has taken the nation by storm following the tragic Parkland shooting.
Members of the Bridgewater-Raritan community have created a Facebook page called “Not In Our Town,” which has more than 900 members, with a mission to not let what happened in Parkland happen ever again.
As part of the Student Empowerment Committee, which came out of the Facebook group, the first event is the planned peaceful march.
Freshman Sia Limaye said she had been trying to fight for gun laws before the Florida shooting, but didn’t know how to go about it.
“But after Parkland, I saw all these students who were actually standing up and trying to make a change, and I realized that I could too,” she said. “Even if it was just a small way to help fight and support to make a change in the world, I could do it.”
Limaye said she and her mother, Neha, came up with the idea of organizing the march, and she thought it was a great way to unite the community as a whole.
“The importance of holding this march is not just because we are fighting for gun control, mental healthcare and school security, but also because we are young kids who are standing up for what we believe in,” Sia Limaye said. “When people see us marching on the sidewalks as they drive past us, they will have the courage and motivation to help make a change.”
Limaye said she and her mother had the courage to organize the march after seeing what the Parkland students were doing to fight back.
In addition to the march, BRHS students will be participating in the national walk out at 10 a.m. March 14, the one-month anniversary of the Parkland shooting. Students will walk out of their classes to honor the lives lost at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida.
During the walk-out, the names of each of the victims of the shooting will be read aloud, and a moment of silence will be held.
Students are also being encouraged that day to wear orange in support of the national movement.
Freshman Vaani Aggarwal said the BRHS march alone may be miniscule, but every minor detail in the fight about gun laws can help.
"One hero and idol in life is Mahatma Gandhi because he was one person who started a revolution," she said. "Gandhi is a common symbol of peace and civil disobedience, and I believe that this is the best way to approach the problem at hand."
"If it takes children to be killed to open the eyes of the people, then us children can also make a change," she added. "We are the future of America and our opinions matter, therefore we take a stand, show people where we stand."
Sia Limaye said she hopes that after all the protests around the country, the government will finally hear the students, and establish gun laws, increase healthcare facilities and increase school security.
“And if they don’t do anything about it, we won’t stop until the government listens,” she said. “I think it is really amazing to see all the students standing up and trying to make a difference because it shows that children are just as passionate as the parents about these issues that have led to all these tragedies.”
BRHS freshman Jillian Young said the march is supposed to spread awareness about what is going on in the world.
“Students just like us were shot at a high school, and it could’ve just as easily been us,” she said. “My hope with this march is that stricter gun laws will be applied, and adults will be able to see that we are not just little kids. We can stand up and fight for what we believe is right, and they should too.”
Young said it is a beautiful thing that so many young people around the country are standing up to fight for what is right.
“You really don’t see that too often, and I think us all coming together, especially at our age, really speaks something to the world,” she said. “We are marching, we aren’t yelling and screaming, we are marching and fighting for what we believe is right.”
Young said she hopes other businesses follow in the footsteps of Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart to make higher age limits for purchasing guns.
And, Young said, she hopes others see that it is important to not wait for others to take action.
“Start it yourself, and maybe everyone will begin to follow and learn from you,” she said. “I believe that’s what all of us young people hope to accomplish with our march, that we can change things and our generation will help make the world a better place in the years to come.”
At this point, Sia Limaye said, the most important thing is to get as many people involved in the protest, and the overall fight, as possible.
“As they always say, majority rules, and at the end of the day, if the whole country stands up, then the government has no choice but to establish these new laws,” she said. “If the whole country stands together as one, we can surely make a difference, I guarantee it.”
For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/196811407746452/.