SPRINGFIELD, NJ - Fueled partially by their disappointment that students were not allowed to leave school for the nationwide student protest last month, student leaders planned a rally Friday on the nineteenth anniversary of the Columbine massacre in Colorado. At 4:30 p.m., students, parents, families, community members met at Chisholm Community Center to register voters, make signs and join anti-gun violence groups. At 5:15 p.m. the growing crowd gathered outside Chisholm Community Center to march to Township Hall for a rally.
Kaya Waltzer and Olivia Gallagher, eighth graders from Florence M. Gardineer Middle School, expressed why they helped organize the March. Kaya Waltzer stated “I want to do it so that I can have a better future and so other generations don’t have to go through this.” Olivia Gallagher added, “We want to show that even though Springfield is a relatively safe community we are doing this as part of a national movement to get stricter gun laws everywhere.”
Well over 100 marchers of all ages proceeded to walk to Springfield's Town Hall escorted by police with placards expressing “Enough”, “Never Again” and “Not one more". Members of the Board of Education, Township Committeewoman Erica DuBois and Freeholder Bruce Bergen were participants. The student leaders gathered on the steps of Town Hall and addressed the crowd.
Five young women took turns with the bullhorn expressing their concerns about gun violence and how it is affecting their generation. Caitlynn McTernan spoke and said, “New Jersey has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation. However, this event and this movement are bigger than our schools and the State of New Jersey. Parkland was considered safe, too. Why should we wait for something to happen to us?”
Zoe Frey made the last statement and said, “It is our right to feel safer in school. We want to feel safer in school… we deserve to feel safe in our schools and we will not stop until we feel safe in our schools." She then thanked everyone for coming as the crowd erupted in loud cheers.