After marching on the nation’s capital and watching their peers and celebrities give their presentations, Marjory Stoneman Douglas students said they were optimistic about what the future holds regarding gun reform.
Matthew Walker, a 17-year-old student at the Parkland, Florida school, said he was surprised at the amount of support they received.
“Honestly, I thought there would be more counter protesters,” he said. “I thought it was crazy seeing all those people marching for us.”
Trevor Wilson, a junior at Piper High School, was taken aback by the size of the crowd, estimated at 800,000.
“It was overwhelming because the magnitude of this protest was so large, there were so many people,” he said. “And it also felt kind of reassuring because I thought like ‘Wow all these people care about this cause.’”
Skyler Tauman, an MSD senior, said she felt happy that thousands of people took the time of their day and weekend to come together for something the peers are her school created.
“I felt pride,” she said. “Everyone was so strong with their words.”
Other riders felt much the same way.
“The movement is strong, the youth are strong, they won’t falter,” said Luis Hernandez, the grandfather of an MSD student. “They have time on their side.”
Recent graduate Tatiyanna Shirley, 19, agreed.
“It’s the heart of the nation, it makes a point by marching there,” she said.
Siblings Juan and Santiago Munera, a sophomore and freshman, respectively, at the school said they left Washington, DC feeling accomplished. Two are friends with Anthony Borges, a student who was shot six times protecting his classmates during the incident.
“We feel we did all we could to prevent this from ever happening again,” said Juan.
Borges recently woke up from a coma.
“He’s always laughing,” said Juan. “And that hasn’t changed after the shooting.”
Many noted that the rally, though important, does not complete the work, and that voting in sympathetic representatives is the best way to create lasting change.
Nicholas Ferrero, a senior at Piper High School, has been encouraging his peers to register to vote and inform themselves on their representatives.
“In 40 or 50 years this is what we’re going to be talking about in history books,” said Ferrero. “Now we have to vote for our lives in November.”
— Written by Victoria Salas; Reporting by Pablo Chillida, Adrian Nones-Newman, Alondra Bodden, Maria Gil, and Victoria Salas, South Florida News Service