March For Our Lives at Kennebunk High School

Ella Yentsch

Out of the many unique clubs and student organizations here at Kennebunk High School, there is one with an especially pressing task: the advocation for the protection of young lives from the threat of gun violence. Founded this school year, March For Our Lives is KHS’s newest student organization. The group works on promoting the values of gun safety, youth engagement in government, and voter registration.

The United States is currently plagued by an ongoing epidemic of gun violence, with numerous school shootings causing the loss of countless innocent lives over the past 20 years. Lockdown drills, once almost unheard of, are now common practice for students of all ages across the country. Almost no day can be normal for these students, as the fear that a shooting could occur at any time constantly looms over their schools and communities. From Columbine in 1999 to the most recent shooting in Greenville, Texas, just this past October, these massacres are shockingly commonplace. Moreover, the wider issue of gun violence is also abundantly clear: over 1.2 million Americans have been shot the past decade, and yet gun legislation and regulations have hardly changed. So in a time where our country’s leaders have turned a blind eye to these issues and abandoned the American youth during a state of national emergency, what happens? 

After the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, students there took matters into their own hands and created the now national, non-partisan, student-led organization March For Our Lives. The group focuses on, among other things, several changes to gun safety laws, such as universal background checks, the banning of high-capacity magazines, and funding for research regarding gun violence. Although schools are often at the forefront of this discussion, March For Our Lives focuses on fighting gun violence in all its forms, including domestic violence involving guns, police brutality, and gun suicides. The organization also highlights the fact that this kind of violence is a civil rights issue; it is clear that minorities are disproportionately harmed by this national epidemic.

March For Our Lives operates through a chapter system with its foundation in the national organization and sub-chapters at the state, county, town, and school levels. For example, the State of Maine’s chapter was established this past spring and since then, chapters at all levels have been opened statewide. School-based chapter members include Cape Elizabeth, Casco Bay, and most recently, Kennebunk!

March For Our Lives should prove to be beneficial here at KHS for a variety of reasons. Not only in our school but also across the country, a negative stigma exists around the idea of gun control, in whatever form it may take. Gun control is often seen as part of a “radical left-wing agenda” to separate Americans from their guns. This is not the goal of this organization. Rather, March For Our Lives seeks to advocate for SAFER gun control practices, not the outright ban of all firearms. 

Hopefully, this organization will be able to better educate members of our community on the virtues of gun safety and gun control, ending this negative stigma. Most importantly, however, the goal of March For Our Lives is to simply make our school’s students feel safe. 

“I’m a member of this club because I want to help work towards a reality where every time a water bottle falls or a door slams, I don’t have to watch my classmates instinctively start looking for cover. We deserve to feel safe in public places,” says Lance Dinino, one of the KHS chapter’s founding members.

Member Alden Coldreck stated, “Being a part of this group is important to me because it allows me to do my part in helping out our generation and future generations in staying safe from gun violence”.

Another goal of March For Our Lives KHS is to encourage youth action and involvement. “The MFOL KHS chapter is important because if you believe in something, you should act on it. Supporting a cause that will ultimately do a lot of good is something that is important to me,” Ellen Neale, another chapter member, said. 

Toby Macedo added, “I am a part of this group because I want to stand up for the people who will never get the chance to stand up for themselves”. March For Our Lives is a great way to get involved and take action. “I became involved because it’s one thing to have an opinion, but it’s entirely different to act on it. If by attending a biweekly meeting I can make even a fraction of a difference, then it’s worth it,” said Lily Barros. 

If you’d like to join this group and have your voice heard on these important issues, attend a meeting. The group meets on blue-day Fridays, at 2:30 in Ms. Moy’s room. For any further questions or comments, director Ella Yentsch can be contacted at [email protected]