More than 50 Lakewood High School students joined hundreds of thousands of their peers in chants of "enough is enough” and “vote them out” Saturday during a march in Washington, D.C.
Titled the “March For Our Lives” by its organizers, the National Park Service issued a permit for 500,000 participants on Pennsylvania Avenue, but before the noontime event, security entrances were closed with the Lakewood students still on the outside.
Seventeen-year-old Averie Lester was one of those students who gathered on the outskirts of the march where the view of the stage was obscured, but the voices of student speakers, celebrity performances and the chants of their fellow protesters could still be heard.
"Just the fact that we got to be there was enough for me," Lester said.
Before the bus left her high school parking lot late Friday night, Lester said she wanted to attend the Washington rally for one reason.
“Representation. I feel as though our group is representing not just the high school, but Lakewood in general, and I think going to Washington makes a bigger statement,” she said.
The march was organized by survivors of the February Parkland, Florida, school shooting that left 17 students and teachers dead. Several students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School took the stage Saturday to share their stories and push for stricter gun laws.
Their battle is one Lester said she believes in.
“I don’t think any civilians should own any assault weapons,” she said. “When they wrote the second amendment, we didn’t have semi-automatic weapons.”
Like the Parkland students, she would also like to see more comprehensive background checks and an increase of the minimum age to purchase a gun.
After an overnight bus ride, the day began with early morning workshops in Washington for students. They were taught how to safely protest, coping mechanisms for stressful situations, like the large crowds, and why continued activism is important.
“The march is the visible part, but there’s so much more work to be done,” Ohio organizer Christian Tamte said. “So, having these workshops help teach everyone, advocates new and old, how to actually get things done and be visible.”
Additional sister marches took place across Ohio, in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and beyond.
The national organization behind the march said more than 800 marches took place around the world Saturday.