SALINAS, Calif. - Students at Alisal High School in Salinas joined the national movement and held a rally centered around remembering those who were killed in the Parkland, Florida school shooting and calling for change.
"This morning I really thought, 'Wow, I'm being part of something that can change the whole world. This is happening in my moment and I need to take action right now,'" senior Jasmine Mejia said.
Starting at 10 a.m., the speakers advocated for the banning of assault rifles, thorough background checks of those seeking to purchase guns, and more mental health awareness The main focus of the rally was on school shootings, but many of the speakers referenced crime in the Salinas community from gang violence and domestic abuse as well.
"We have shootings constantly and we chose to ignore them, because of what I said, it's just normal for us," senior Diego Barajas said. "Whereas if we see something in parkland happening, it's totally not normal in the sense for them, so really opens our eyes to what is considered normal."
Signs at the rally included messages such as, “Fear has no place in our school,” “18th century gun laws can’t regulate 21st century guns,” “Be kind to your mind” and “Treat mental health.”
Students began filing into Hadden gymnasium at 9:45 a.m. to receive the posters created by fellow students. The student led event began with a moment of silence for those who were killed in the Parkland school shooting one month ago Wednesday. Names and ages of the students and faculty were read to a standing crowd.
After messages from Representative Jimmy Panetta and the county supervisor, several students took to the podium to speak. The students read poetry they had written, their personal experiences with gun violence, and calls for change they would like to see. Diego Barajas wrote a poem about what he imagined the chaos at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was like.
When the speaking ended at 11:00 a.m., the student leaders announced a letter writing campaign. Students are asked to write letters of encouragement to those directly affected by the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Letters can be submitted at the school library.
Principal Ernesto Garcia closed the event by sharing his pride in the school and saying, “Today is a great day to be a Trojan.”
"To give our kids a platform to say whatever they feel like saying," Garcia said, "Today as you saw there, we didn't censor any of their speeches, all of their speeches came from the heart and you see how well it turned out and how appreciative all the other students were here at Alisal High School."