Assumption bused students to D.C. March for Our Lives

Assumption bused students to D.C. March for Our Lives

Arriving almost six hours early, 31 girls, mostly juniors and seniors, clad in neon orange scarves shivered as they walked toward a stage with a blue banner reading “March for our Lives” lining its frame.

Just a week ago, these students had walked out of their school in the middle of the day to protest gun legislation. Now, Assumption High School had given them the opportunity to travel D.C. to continue the movement.

“We left last night at 8 and just drove all night,” Amelia Stober, a junior, said. Stober did her homework early because if she waited, she would “have no time to do it at all.”

“We slept on the bus, we had a little party on the bus, we made some posters, we watched movies, we ate candy — a lot of junk food was consumed on that bus ride — but we got here at 6:30 in the morning, we got off our busses, we put our scarves on, and we came right here,” Emma Putman, a senior, said. “We haven’t moved since.”

“Literally not since;” Julie Ghadinger, a senior, chimed in through laughter, “my back is broken. Not to be dramatic, but, I can’t feel anything.”

By the middle of the day, the air started warming up. Body heat from people shoulder-to-shoulder, wall-to-wall radiated throughout the crowd.

“I remember when I got sunburned, but I also couldn’t feel my toes, so I was confused,” Ghadinger joked.

Annabelle Riley wears her orange scarf in support of March For Our Lives. Photo by Phoebe Monsour.

A teacher had made their scarves, and each student wore one. The color, according to CNN, is the symbol of the movement because “it’s the color hunters wear to avoid being shot by other hunters.”

Stober said, Assumption lets “us speak out for what we believe in and let us take part in what we believe in.”

But not only is the school letting the students speak, the staff is joining in. Andrew Stairs, an English teacher at Assumption, was one of the many chaperoning the students.

“Our school is guided by the charism of the Sisters of Mercy, and non-violence is very much a critical concern of theirs,” Stairs said.

While Assumption accommodated the walk-outs and planned the field trip, schools like Saint Xavier High School did not allow their students the opportunity.

St. X threatened the school’s version of detention, “JUGs” — “Justice Under God” — if anyone were to participate in the walk-out. However, a fire alarm sounded in the middle of the school day. The school’s official stance is that it was a malfunction due to a faulty sensor.

Still, students from Assumption, such as Annabelle Relly and Putman, have heard rumors that a student may have pulled the alarm. Nick Taylor, a junior at St. X, believes the idea may have merit. Though the conspiracy theory will probably remain just a theory, it shows student discontent with how St. X, and schools like it, handled the walk-outs.

“I had friends at St. X that day that wanted to participate [in the walk-out] but their administration wouldn’t allow them to,” Putman said. “They risked getting in trouble for something they believed in.”

Other schools, like Sacred Heart Academy and Trinity, had walk-outs of their own, but Assumption took it a step farther. Their field trip to D.C. was rare among Louisville’s Catholic schools. Even then, they arrived at the location early enough to join the front lines, flanked by the masses that followed.

Between journalists’ wires and their equipment’s legs, Assumption students could just make out the heads of Lin Manuel Miranda, Miley Cyrus and even — almost — Emma Gonzalez with her buzz cut, silence and tears, though they were in much clearer view on the screen next to the stage.

When the screen flipped the view to the audience, there were audible gasps from the crowd. People were in awe of the river of protesters behind them. Tears swelled in Putman’s and Ghadinger’s eyes.

“My heart stopped,” Putman said.

“Such a monumental moment, we were up front for that,” Ghadinger said. “How could you not cry?”

“Thinking about how many adults and kids are here for the same reason as I am is inspiring,” Putman said.

At the end of the rally, students waited for the crowd to subdue before they could leave.

“It was just such an amazing and inspiring experience, that I’m just so glad I got to have, even if I did have to go on that bus ride” Riley said.

They sat on the concrete after hours on their feet, talking, joking, laughing. They made plans to eat. When was the last time they had eaten?

But each of them still wore their neon orange scarfs, and memories of thousands piling up behind them played in their mind as they finally piled into their bus one more time.

Emma Putman waits for a few other Assumption students to join her group after the rally has ended. Photo by Phoebe Monsour.
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