Palisades Charter High School senior and co-Editor-in-Chief of the Tideline journalism class Eliana Feinstein is coordinating the submission of a series of pieces the Palisadian-Post is publishing from the school’s periodical. A version of this piece originally appeared in Tideline.
By SPENCER JUNG | Contributing Writer
Three years since its inception, youth-developed March For Our Lives continues its mission to “support and center the people and communities most impacted by gun violence.”
The organization was founded on March 24, 2018, by 28 former students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, after 17 students and faculty were killed and 17 were injured in the fourth-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.
MFOL currently has more than 300 chapters throughout the nation, including the Palisades Charter High School chapter, led by junior Maddie Glenn.
Glenn said she was inspired to join the movement during an active-shooter drill at Pali High last school year before the transition to remote learning. Although she knew there was no real danger during the drill, she explained how the experience of a fake shooter banging on barricaded gym doors made her realize that this staged scenario could become a real one as soon as the next class period.
One MFOL member, junior Ananya Tan, said she joined the Pali chapter because she “enjoyed discussing important topics with students who have great ideas and different perspectives.” Tan explained she has learned many facts about gun violence and she is looking forward to informing others who are not as knowledgeable about the issue.
Although not affiliated with the local chapter, Pali High senior Aliya Govindraj is involved on the state level as the deputy director of the MFOL California State Board.
“I have never learned more than when I am listening to the experiences of my fellow members who I admire so much,” Govindraj said. “I have also had to force myself to look at the privilege I carry … to uplift the voices of people who are more severely impacted by the issues our organization focuses on.
“MFOL has also taught me practical skills, as I’ve run for a statewide position. I had to think on my feet at town halls and learn how to write a convincing speech.”
Pali High junior Maya Deganyar said she joined MFOL her freshman year, having been involved in the gun violence prevention movement since she was in eighth grade. Once she became co-state director of MFOL, Deganyar led countless phone banks to encourage youth voter turnout in the 2020 elections.
Deganyar is currently working on legislation at both the local and state level to cut funding to and eliminate school police. She said this will ensure that students receive access to mental health professionals and counselors instead of police officers.
MFOL members have attended numerous town halls, rallies, phone banks and other events to raise awareness for its cause. In February, members of the Pali High chapter organized an online memorial for the three-year anniversary of the Parkland shooting.
In addition, to help pass gun control legislation, MFOL has partnered with other youth-led organizations such as Gen-Up, a “student-led social justice organization and student activist coalition that strives to advocate for education,” according to the group’s website.
The wider community is invited to get involved: Glenn explained that “the community can support the cause to end gun violence by speaking to local legislators or Congress members … ask them to support (or not support) a piece of legislation.”
Furthermore, Deganyar and Govindraj said that they believe that with the diverse student body at Pali, there are students who live in areas where gun violence is very prevalent. A possible solution MFOL discussed, Deganyar said, is “defunding the police with the funds being used to uplift communities of color by providing more health care and mental health support.”
Glenn said she believes the drills and presentations in school during Community Days are not enough to prevent gun violence.
“We were never taught about the causes of gun violence or how we can prevent these terrible events from happening in the first place,” she shared. “Teach us why it happens in the first place. Teach us the signs for when our peers need help and might harm others otherwise.”
The Pali chapter of March For Our Lives meets on Tuesdays at 2 p.m. Any Pali student is welcome to join, even if they do not know much about the topics MFOL is involved in.
Those interested can contact the Pali MFOL Instagram at
@mfolpalisades or email Glenn at email@example.com.
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