Students organizing walkouts in their high schools next week will also hold rallies in the community to draw attention to their pleas for action on gun control.
Students at Carlisle High School have organized a “Cease Fire” rally to be held at 2 p.m. Sunday on the steps of the Old Courthouse.
The following weekend on Sunday, March 18, Cumberland Valley students will hold their “Legislating for Peace” rally at 2 p.m., also on the square.
The two rallies book-end student walkouts at several area high schools that are planned for March 14, the one-month anniversary of the shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Leaders from both schools said the community rallies have a similar message as the student walkouts, but are aimed at different audiences.
“The walkout is specifically for high school students to participate in, whereas the rally is more for the community,” said Michael Smith, who has been part of the team organizing the student walkout at Carlisle High School.
A statement posted to the Carlisle walkout’s Twitter account indicates that the students “understand and respect” the significance of the right to bear arms, but demand sensible gun control that does not also infringe upon Second Amendment rights.
“We want to speak up as students to promote sensible gun control to our lawmakers,” Smith said.
At the Sunday rally, student speakers will be joined by Carlisle Mayor Tim Scott, Borough Councilman Sean Crampsie and Alan Howe, Democratic candidate for the 10th Congressional District and Carlisle resident.
It was hard to sit back and watch what happened in Parkland, said Bailey Harper, a senior at Cumberland Valley High School. The size of the school seemed familiar, for example.
“For me watching it, it really hit home as being something like Cumberland Valley,” she said.
When the team working on the student walkout at Cumberland Valley saw how the Parkland community came together, they were inspired to reach out to spread awareness beyond the high school.
Harper said the March 18 rally will feature both student and community speakers. The initial plan was to walk through town as well, but that may change.
“It’s basically going to be as peaceful as possible. We’re not trying to disturb anyone. We’re just trying to raise awareness,” she said.
The Sunday afternoon rallies and the student walkouts come in advance of the March for Our Lives event in Washington, D.C., on March 24. That march has been organized by survivors of the Parkland shooting, and has given rise to more than 400 sibling marches worldwide including a march in Harrisburg at noon on the Capitol steps.
The marches may be only the beginning of the students’ advocacy as Smith said they have been discussing the potential for creating a political action committee to continue working for gun control measures.
“We don’t want this to end,” he said.
Harper agreed, saying that the changes they are demanding will take time to enact. In the meantime, the students are also looking for ways to help.
“We all know that it’s not going to change after one march. We’re starting to look into fundraising to help communities who are facing this tragedy or have had to face it,” she said.