- Sponsorship -

Trip to March for Our Lives in D.C. motivates students to ‘make the change’ for safer schools and society


Caleb Hekman has read about mass social protests in his history classes at City High School. Now he has been part of one.

The junior was one of 42 local students who traveled together to the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C. to protest gun violence and call for political change. Hearing powerful speeches from students his age, including survivors of the Feb. 14 Parkland, Florida mass school shooting, in a crowd of hundreds of thousands was “one of the most powerful things I’ve ever seen,” Caleb said afterward.

“It’s something that kids could learn about in their history books, and I was a part of that,” he said.

Related:

Caleb helped organize a bus trip to the nation’s capital that included students from about 15 schools and more than a dozen adult chaperones. He worked on the plan with his girlfriend, junior Mirabella Witte of Union High School and Kent Innovation High, her mother, Amber Fox, and his mother, Amy Riley.

Students came from several districts around the area, including Forest Hills, Godfrey Lee, Godwin Heights and Northview as well as other Grand Rapids Public Schools. A GoFundMe campaign helped some students afford the trip.

Caleb said he was deeply affected by students who spoke of losing classmates and loved ones to gun violence. One hit especially close to home: a young man whose twin brother was shot to death in a robbery. It made Caleb think of potentially losing one of his three brothers.

Students Acknowledge Privilege

He was also impressed by students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who said the media would not have given the same coverage if their shooting had happened someplace less affluent, and that they wanted to use the tragedy to shine a light on places like Chicago where gun violence is more prevalent.

“The students that went up there speaking really showed me you don’t have to be a voter to make a difference,” said Caleb, who won’t turn 18 until next January. “Just your voice, if it’s heard by people that do want to vote, or by legislators that can actually make change, that’s enough for me.”

He said he was motivated to write letters to legislators, urging a ban on assault weapons and other gun-control measures. “If I wasn’t so busy with school this week, I’d be writing a letter tonight,” he said.

Meanwhile, other students hope to set up a town hall and invite U.S. Rep. Justin Amash to talk about gun legislation.

The motivation he and other students got from March for Our Lives will propel them forward, Caleb said.

“It really is empowering me to make the change. And each person that wants to make the change matters.”

- Sponsorship -
Charles Honey
Charles Honey
Charles Honey is editor-in-chief of SNN, and covers Rockford and Grand Rapids. As a reporter for The Grand Rapids Press/mLive from 1985 to 2009, his beats included Grand Rapids Public Schools, local colleges and education issues. Honey served as editor of The Press’ award-winning Religion section for 15 years and its columnist for 20. His freelance articles have appeared in Christianity Today, Religion News Service and Faith & Leadership magazine. Read Charles' full bio or email Charles.

LATEST ARTICLES

Fourth-grade hockey fan gets a magical hour on ice: ‘I made the shot!’

Raised as a Red Wings and Grand Rapids Griffins hockey fan, Jackson Solow lights up while skating on an ice rink wearing his favorite hockey jersey...

‘This time it is continued learning’

One school’s switch from in-person to virtual education last week was nearly seamless, especially when compared with the forced school closure in March...

Foundation grants $28,285 in fall funding requests

Virtual phys ed and art experiences, materials to improve classroom focus and books on social issues aimed at middle-schoolers are among the grants approved this fall...

Latest school closings expand on state-ordered high school mandate

More Kent County districts continue to announce temporary school building closures, as schools contend with a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in Kent County and Michigan...

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

Latest school closings expand on state-ordered high school mandate

More Kent County districts continue to announce temporary school building closures, as schools contend with a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in Kent County and Michigan...

Many districts had shifted gears prior to statewide high school closure

Under new order, colleges and high schools must close for in-person learning through Dec. 8. Kindergarten through eighth-grade can continue in person...

Hour of Code to be held virtually this year

In partnership with Kent ISD, West Michigan Tech Talent is creating a virtual Hour of Code curriculum for third- through fifth-graders across West Michigan...
- Sponsorship -

HOW'S SCHOOL TODAY?

Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...

RADEMACHER & FRIENDS

Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -

MEDIA PARTNERS

Maranda Where You LiveWGVU

SUSTAINING SPONSORS