March For Our Lives: Part 2

Westporters continue to “March For Our Lives.” Here are more photos from alert — and passionate — “06880” readers.

The photo below shows Katie Baker, a Staples High School sophomore. Her mother Gwen writes:

“A few days after the Parkland shooting, she and her fellow gym class peers had to shelter in place in a supply closet. Fortunately, Staples students remained safe — unlike their Parkland counterparts. But the threat of gun violence became more than a political agenda, to these students and others around the country.”

Katie Baker (Photo/Gwen Baker)

The bottom row of victims’ names includes those at Sandy Hook Elementary School, a few miles from Westport. (Photo/Valerie Smith-Malin)

New York Senator and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer joined the Democratic Women of Westport in New York. (Photo/Lisa Newman)

Several Westporters attended the march in Shelton, Connecticut. (Photo/Lauren MacNeill)

Mark and Debbie Ritter joined their daughter Emily (Staples High School Class of 2017, now at George Washington University) in DC — with, he says.”a million people (not fake news). It was a moving and powerful experience, even though we were 4 blocks from the stage.”

More Westport students add their voices to the protest. They’re lining up to march at New York’s Museum of Natural History. (Photo/Nicole Bonn)

Local resident Roseann Spengler in Hartford, with her grandchildren.

Former Westporter John Backiel traveled from Florida to Washington, DC for today’s protest. This sign caught his eye.

If you take photos at tonight’s candlelight vigil in Westport, please send them to “06880” ( We hope to run some of the best ones tomorrow.


45 responses to “March For Our Lives: Part 2

  1. Jeff Mitchell

    The next school walkout is planned for April 20, where apparently the emphasis is on getting kids signed up to vote. Yes, this can be done on-line. But, you know, we all “for sure” will do this “tomorrow”. Is it feasible to set up something at Staples that allows kids to register at school on that day? FYI, to register you must “be at least 17 years old (must turn 18 on or before election day)”, which should be the entire senior class. Just a thought.

  2. Dorothy Abrams

    Registering for voting is a privilege and a responsibility. If the potential voter can’t find the time to register, perhaps he/she shouldn’t vote.

    • Colleen Lane

      We older, experienced adults should be helping & encouraging younger first time voters. I think SHS voter registration on April 20th is a perfect way to do just that!

    • Jeff Mitchell

      Many don’t vote, or register to vote, because they don’t think their one vote can make a difference, or that those they elect will serve those who financed their campaigns over those who voted them in– not that they don’t care enough to vote. These kids are trying to change this perception.

    • Russell Gontar

      Registering to vote should be made as easy as possible. You got a problem with that?

  3. Werner Liepolt

    There have always been registration days at Staples. I believe the League of Women Voters organizes them. Encouraging young people to be active participants in our democracy should be something we all do enthusiastically. Why not April 20th?

  4. Sal liccione

    I am proud off all the westporters that went to nyc and dc wish I could be there I stayed back home I am proud off all the staple students and Becky Martin our new vice chair and dem women and men who traveled and going to hartford

  5. Pretty compelling reason to raise the voting age to 25 (at least) EXCEPT for those 18 YOs in military who are most certainly not only entitled but qualified to vote.

    • Colleen Lane

      What???? What an ignorant comment! Shame on you 😡

    • Peter Gambaccini

      You’re on the wrong side of history, Mr. Kent. Enjoy your impending obsolescence.

      • There is no “wrong side of history.” Nor is there a “right side of history.” History is what has happened in the past, and from any given point in time the future is utterly unpredictable. History might seem to have proceeded in a straight line when viewed from the future, but it wasn’t and isn’t. “Post hoc ergo propter hoc” is a fallacy.

        • Peter Gambaccini

          Yeah, you’ve intentionally misconstrued the meaning and the intent and your version is merely your version. Injecting pointlessness into a discussion is boring. Have a lovely evening.

    • Werner Liepolt

      Because those articulate, passionate, intelligent high schoolers who are leading us to sanity make you feel threatened?

      • 19% of high school graduates are illiterate. Why would anyone follow them anywhere?

        • Werner Liepolt

          Did you witness examples of illiteracy among the students demonstrating today?

          • What is your point? Are you challenging the data?

            • Werner Liepolt

              There are studies that link illiteracy with gun ownership.

              I don’t see what your assertion or this one has to do with raising the voting age to 25.

            • Peter Gambaccini

              His point could be that your alleged “data” has no relevance to today’s events.

              • The word “data” is plural. You are free to follow people who are illiterate.

                • Werner Liepolt

                  I only saw one datum in your comment.

                  However, you raise an interesting question: why follow the high school students leading this movement? They will pay for whatever is decided for the length of their lives. They see lawmakers who have comparatively short longevity expectations making decisions that affect them, enthrall them in debt, spoil their environment, fail to protect them from harm, etc.

                  An upper class white male living in Florida and owning a gun has a life expectancy of less than 76 years. A 71 year old may not think the way an 18 year old thinks about these and other similar issues.

                  Therefor an argument could be made that the short-sightedness and self interest a 71 year old upper class white male might excerise in voting should be limited or curtailed entirely.

                  • Observations across many students are “data”.
                    Where is the evidence that high schools students make better judgments than do older individuals? Why not lower the voting age to 12?
                    As for the debt burden, aren’t these students the same people who want a “free” college education?
                    By marching in DC aren’t the students trying to advance their self interest?

                    Once again; you are free to follow them if you choose.

                    • Peter Gambaccini

                      Don’t you have any other hobbies, other than wasting everybody’s time, as always?

                    • Werner Liepolt

                      40% of older Americans are illiterate. Why would anyone follow them anywhere?

            • Russell Gontar

              Why can’t you answer a simple question?

        • Russell Gontar

          Which right wing “think” tank did you scrape that bogus percentage out of? Breitbart? Infowars? Alex Jones? Fox News? Betsey Devos?

          • You were saying?

            According to a recent study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education, 32 million of American adults are illiterate, 21 percent read below a 5th grade level, and 19 percent of high school graduates are functionally illiterate, which means they can’t read well enough to manage daily living and perform tasks required …Sep 13, 2016
            Did Public Schools Really Improve American Literacy? – Foundation …

            • Russell Gontar

              Your link goes to which links to huffPo, neither of which has the information you stated or a direct link to the DOE “study” . If you can provide a link to THE ACTUAL STUDY, instead of a rabbit hole to nowhere, let’s have it. Otherwise, I call bullshit on you.

        • Russell Gontar

          Leave it to you to smear high school students. SAD!

    • Nancy Hunter

      Having been told over and over by friends and family that forums/blogs are a waste of time, I finally accept it.

      • Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

        I kind of get what you’re saying Nancy. Maybe we should act on it. Ya think?

    • William Strittmatter

      Though I don’t advocate raising the voting age, at some level, Bruce might be right. The reality is that large swaths of the populace (voting or otherwise) are grossly under informed about issues and are often swayed by emotions and/or skillful playing of underlying biases by those seeking election (or the Russians) rather than by reflective and informed thought. I mean seriously, isn’t that how most folks commenting on this blog think Trump got elected?

      Less life experience, which (all else being equal) is what younger people inevitably suffer from, tends to lend itself to less informed decisions and/or opinions. Who among us have not shifted our views from when we were 18 years old on at least some topic with age, experience and/or education?

      Of course, that is not to say that younger people are wrong in their views. They may be more right than some older person living or (wanting to live) in the past. I might caution you, however, about extrapolating the thoughtful and righteous views of precocious Westporters to the broader population at any age group.

      At least initially, children tend to adopt the views of the folks that influence them, particularly parents (if they have them). While that may result in lovely, well engaged and “correct” world views among Westport’s young people, recognize that “gun-toting wackadoodles” in flyover country have children too, and generally at a higher rate than Westporters. Remember, education and income is inversely correlated with lifetime fertility rates pretty much across all races. Guess what. Those “gun-toting wackadoodle” children can vote at 18 too.

      Fortunately, or unfortunately, in this country there isn’t an income, intelligence, educational attainment, economic awareness, values or “lack of stupidity” test to allow one to vote (notwithstanding that is sort of what the founding fathers had in mind). Dropping the voting age to 18 was debatable, but certainly justifiable, when we were sending boys off to war that they otherwise had no say in it.

      On the other hand, for some reason many states, including CT, think 18 year olds are thoughtful, intelligent and responsible enough to vote, but not thoughtful, intelligent and responsible enough to buy or consume alcohol. Hmmm.

  6. Mary Cookman Schmerker Staples '58

    I wish I could have marched. However I have followed on line and on TV. I am delighted with what I have heard. These young people are articulate. They have a great future ahead of them and I am looking forward to following them and supporting them in any way I can. I think they may be the ones to finally make a difference. Sandy Hook has been mentioned so many times over the last few weeks. Sandy Hook made a difference and the advances are noted but are not enough. I feel these students will carry through to the changes that are so needed. A foot note : 1976 Chowchilla California, students and their school bus driver were kidnaped and buried. They escaped. When you “google” the incident you can see that they have been followed and the effects of their kidnapping has stayed with them. We need to remember the children and adults who have experienced violence will carry the experience with them through their lives. Changes in gun laws are needed NOW. Let’s make our voices heard. Let’s stand behind and give strong support to the very brave young people who are calling for the change.

  7. Paul Argenio

    How dare you people want to take away both my God given and Constitutional rights.

    How about doing something meaningful that will actually make a difference, instead of standing on the street preaching ban guns.

    First off, You parents need to take personal responsibility and raise your children correctly!!! Spend quality time with your kids, instead of working sun up till sun down chasing the almighty dollar. Teach them moral values, introduce God and prayer into their lives. Don’t just let them sit by them selves in their bedroom playing violent video games for hours/days on end, thus desensitizing them to what it’s like to hurt or kill an actual person. Get them interested in a sport or activity, helping them to create friends in the real world, not just in cyberspace. Pay attention to what is going on in their lives, you should damn well know your child enough to realize that there’s something wrong and if so, do something about it, don’t leave it up to others to find out the hard way. No it’s not okay to tell your young child that they can be whatever sex they want to be, that will without a doubt make them an physiological train wreck. A child’s brain is still in the beginning of it’s its development stage and they need strict parental guidance in order to lead them on the road to be a normal person.

    In todays society its the norm for teachers to take the easy way out and recommend that parents put their kids on hard core psychotropic drugs, because they act out or are restless in class. Hello, they are kids with a lot of energy. Talk about creating a ticking time bomb… Werner Liepolt managed to teach us crazy kids back in the day without recommending to our parents that we need to be medicated.

    Students, do you really want to stop school violence? because it’s your classmates that are killing you, not the guns. Here’s some novel ideas, don’t shove that quiet reclusive classmate of yours into the lockers and call him or her a loser, instead give everyone a high five as you walk past them in the halls, helping to keep everyone’s attitude positive. Include them into your social activities, support each other, don’t isolate someone just because they aren’t as cool as you think you are, do your best to get to know everyone in school on a personal level and if you strongly believe that someone has an issue try talking to them about it, or bring it to someone’s attention. Get your parents or an professional instructor to teach you about firearm safety and how to responsibly fire a rifle or handgun, don’t just follow what you hear from others saying guns are evil.

    I have a son who is currently a high school senior. I taught him all about strict firearm safety and how to properly handle a firearm from a young age. We hunt for food and shoot together on a regular basis. My wife and I focused on raising him to be a good person with high moral characteristics and to treat others with respect. He goes to church with us every Sunday and believes in God The Father, so I don’t have to be concerned that he will go out and hurt or kill others.

    You adults say that we need to protect our precious youth… I wonder how many of you hypocrites believe in abortion?

    • Jeff Mitchell

      By my observation, the very same people who say they don’t want kids to be able to buy weapons of war are totally fine with *also* teaching moral responsibility. What makes you think this is not true?

    • Ted Friedman

      I guess the Texas bomber is Exhibit 1 of the benefits of caring parents providing a solid religious grounding as you suggest above. Not the solution.

    • John McCarthy

      What Would Jesus Shoot?

    • William Strittmatter

      I don’t recall God (in any religion) saying anything about all his/her children having guns but maybe I missed that day at church. On the other hand, Mr. Argenio may have a valid point about whether it is guns or something else that is the underlying issue.

      Where I grew up, there was plenty of access to guns but not (that I recall) a lot of school shootings. Older kids may have occasionally killed themselves and there was the occasional criminal related shooting but not indiscriminate mass killings. For whatever reason, we all seemed to know that killing other people was a “bad thing” that would be punished so you just didn’t do it. Of course, semi-automatic weapons weren’t as prevalent so maybe…

      Having said that, there is no question that if access to guns didn’t exist, there would be no mass shootings. However, it is debatable whether that would end mass killings. Certainly it would by guns, but we know now that more widely available (than guns) cars and trucks can be used with deadly consequence to kill large numbers of people. And, of course, there are other things that can be “weaponized”.

      I lived in Hubbard Woods several years after what was the first “mass school shooting” (at least that I was aware of). It is instructive to read the Wikipedia article on the perpetrator, Laurie Dann which also describes the event. While it culminated with gunfire, it started with attempts at mass poisoning, fire bombs, and arson. At its heart, however, was a mentally unstable individual. I don’t think lack of access to guns would have stopped her.

      I believe someone else raised the question on a related post. Essentially – “what is the root cause of the issue and what is being done about that?” Mental instability seems to be a common thread. If it is mental instability, should society be treating mentally unstable people differently?

      As commented on by someone from the ACLU after Hubbard Woods – “It would be a shame if we cut back on the civil liberties of literally millions of mentally ill people because of the occasional bizarre incident.” I don’t disagree with that.

      On the other hand, I would imagine Mr. Argenio would argue – “It would be a shame if we cut back on the civil liberties of literally millions of gun owners because of the occasional bizarre incident.”

      This is a hard question. It is intuitively easy to “just take away the guns”. But it is doubtful that will truly solve the underlying problem. But isn’t saving just one life of a schoolchild worth it? Maybe, but you could say that about a lot of things, including outlawing playground equipment. Where does one draw the line on whose rights to infringe? Like I said, hard question.

    • Russell Gontar

      The nation is flooding with 300 millions guns. If that’s your idea of a good time, then you are responsible for all of the ressulting mayhem and lost lives. You created the situation. Do something to fix it.

  8. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

    I wonder why it takes a mob to make people do the right thing.

  9. Peter Gambaccini

    What I originally came on here to say was that Westporters did themselves proud on Saturday both in town and in NYC, and good for them.