HACKENSACK, NJ -- While hundreds of local residents descended on the county courthouse this Saturday to attend one of several "March for Our Lives" rallies planned throughout the state, a group of Hackensack High School students took it a step further -- they rode a bus to Washington D.C. to join hundreds of thousands at the largest of the events. Held in response to the school shooting that took place in Parkland, Florida last month, the rallies drew passionate speakers and marches of all ages in Hackensack and beyond.
The Hackensack rally came on the heels of city and school district officials announcing that they would be implementing enhanced security measures in local schools, including hiring retired police officers to serve as armed guards at elementary schools.
"No one can afford to think 'It will never happen here' any longer," said Mayor John Labrosse at the Hackensack march. "We must all be proactive in the event that something like that does happen here. We want our students and we want our staff members to feel safer. A little extra security will definitely help with the problem."
The Hackensack march was one of 800 "sibling marches" held around the country. It was organized in part by the Bergen County Democratic Saturday AM Group, along with a coalition of local students, elected officials and many others.
"The March was an overwhelming success and while we, the adults, who helped organize the event appreciate the words of thanks and tokens of appreciation, it is us who owe a thank you to the students," said Todd Sherer, a former Paramus Councilman and founder of the Saturday AM group. "The grace, the passion, the intelligence, the kindness, the generosity, the intellectually honesty that these young adults have exhibited is a true gift and one that I will cherish. To all the students, thank you for sharing your most valuable possession, hope."
Hours before the march was held in their home city, a group of 42 Hackensack High School students were boarding a chartered bus bound for Washington DC. They were accompanied by Deputy Mayor David Sims, a Paraprofessional at Hackensack High.
"I want to thank Rev. Jackson of Mount Olive Baptist Church, along with Mark Jackson, vice president and director of Hackensack High School Drop-in Center, for spearheading this event," Sims said. "I was honored that the youth asked me to chaperone and be part of history because people have had enough of gun violence in schools. The event was life-changing and will be forever etched in my memories."