Note: TAPInto New Brunswick is partnering with New Brunswick High School for an ongoing journalism education project. Below is coverage of today's rally from the perspective of a student journalist who attended.
NEW BRUNSWICK - Today, approximately 1,700 students commemorated the 17 lives taken in the Parkland, Fl. school shooting by attending an outdoor rally in New Brunswick, initiated by three students to pay respect to the lives lost in Parkland as well as foster advocacy for stricter gun laws.
Junior Alyssa Sanchez-Lora, and two seniors, Michelle Villa and Josselyn Nunez, designed the ceremony that included student speeches, a “Unity Dance,” poems, and comments by visiting dignitaries, including New Brunswick Mayor James Cahill. The ceremonies’ overall theme is now is the time to take action to make the world a safer place.
“We, the minorities, must take a stand, too,” Nunez said. “And maybe, we need to stand a bit taller… It is our responsibility and duty to let our feelings be known...because if we work together we can live in a peaceful society.”
Schools Superintendent Dr. Aubrey Johnson praised the students for this act of solidarity “for the common good” and reminded them to see their “power in their education.” “Together,” he reminded students, "we can change the world.”
Cahill also commended the students for their protest against “senseless violence” and reminded students that their dedication to the cause of protecting people was “not only admirable, but needed.” Board of Education Vice-President Benito Ortiz challenged students to make their voices heard and to vote.
The most poignant moment of the 10 a.m. event was when 17 balloons were released as the names of the Parkland victims were read. Tears were shed for the lives lost; there was much emotion displayed by students after the event.
The NBHS students’ advocacy does not end here. The planners of this rally and other students plan to attend the "March for Our Lives" walk on March 24 in Washington D.C.
Tahirih Rohomon is a senior at New Brunswick High School.