Junior Natalie Strand Marches for Safety

In the spring of 2018, Junior Natalie Strand boarded a train in downtown Randolph with 11 of her peers and three teachers, not knowing what to expect when she arrived at the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C.

"I’ve been to protests before," she said, "small ones in Montpelier and big city ones in Boston, but never had I marched on Washington before."

"I’m a sophomore at Randolph Union High School and in light of the recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, where 17 people were gunned down, my feelings about gun control have become stronger."

"I recently joined a small student-led group organizing a walkout on safety and solidarity in schools across America, and on March 13, succeeded in encouraging the majority of RUHS students to walk out of Randolph Union High School for 17 minutes, to honor the students from Florida who lost their lives, and to ask our administration in the high school to improve their safety protocols for all members of our school system in Randolph, Brookfield, and Braintree."

"Attending the March for Our Lives in Washington this past weekend was a continuation of the work we started at RUHS by organizing the walkout."

"I decided to go to D.C. with a small group from my school, along with the organizer, Carol McNair. The train ride was long—about 11 hours—but gave me time to think about why my peers and I decided to take part in such an important event in America."

"Walking into the city, I began to feel the same thrill I felt at the Women’s March in Montpelier last January. I could hear the crowd getting louder, and could see the thousands of signs being held up high by all kinds of different people. My group was dressed in bright orange, to both represent safety in schools and to be seen easily among the 800,000 people present at the March."

"We arrived in a spot in the crowd, as close as we could get to the stage."

"The rally began with Andra Day singing the song “Rise Up” and right then I began to feel emotional. I looked around at the thousands of people who were all here for the same reason. The rally continued with multiple student speeches from Parkland, Fla.; Brooklyn, N.Y.; Las Vegas, Nev.; and Washington, D.C."

"I was also inspired by several performers who cried out for safety and solidarity through song, including Lin Manuel Miranda, Demi Lovato, Vic Mensa, and Jennifer Hudson. Martin Luther King’s granddaughter also gave a heartwarming speech."

"It was so inspiring to recognize how much support there is for students all over the country, as we ask the simple question: why we should fear for our lives in school?"

"As I reflect on the moving experience of being a part of this movement, standing with 800,000 people who traveled from all over the country, I realized the biggest impact on me was hearing the students from Parkland, Fla. speak."

"Just over a month ago, they experienced atrocity in their school, watched their friends brutally lose their lives. Their anger and emotion about the issue made me realize how important this is to thousands of students and made me want to get more involved. They made me want to continue the conversation in my school and community."