March for Our Lives York: 'Step up and take a stand'

Junior Gonzalez
York Dispatch

Kelsey Lauder is sick of inaction.

March for Our Lives rally in York City will take place at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 24.

As an eighth-grader, one of Lauder's classmates, Jimmy Sheets, shot and killed former Red Lion Area Junior High School Principal Eugene Segro before killing himself at the start of the school day in April 2003.

Just as she was preparing to go to college at Temple University, the April 16, 2007, mass shooting at Virginia Tech occurred. 

Then came the Dec. 14, 2012, shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 27 students and teachers were killed in their classrooms.

“This is crazy,” Lauder remembers saying. “I thought something has to be done now.”

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'We're all guilty': However, nearly 15 years and dozens of shootings after the Red Lion killing — including one in Parkland, Florida, three weeks ago that took another 17 lives — Lauder says she is no longer waiting for action from legislators.

“We’re all guilty for not stopping this — all of us,” she said. “Somebody has to step up and take a stand.”

Lauder and her former Red Lion Junior High classmates Maggie Stauffer Holroyd and Amandah Stem are organizing a sister rally in York City to coincide with the national March for Our Lives on Saturday, March 24.

Lauder, who now lives in Philadelphia, said she decided to help organize an event back home because York County needs change more than an already liberal bastion like Philadelphia.

“It’s places like York that need events like this,” she said.

Ali Kochik, a current student at Red Lion Area Senior High School, concurred.

March for Our Lives York logo.

“Because of where we live (in York County), there’s quite of a divide,” she said, but she claims all sides of the debate on campus are in agreement that “something needs to change” on firearms.

She participated in the demonstration Wednesday, March 14, where students across the nation walked out of their classrooms.

From left: Maggie Stauffer Holroyd and Kelsey Lauder are helping organize the March for Our Lives York rally on Saturday, March 24.

Lauder, Stauffer Holroyd and Stem reached out to York City Mayor Michael Helfrich’s office and were pointed to officials at public works and the city police department to secure a block of Market Street between South George and North Duke streets.

There will be several speakers at the event, including current and former York County students and a central Pennsylvania member of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

'It happened here': The event will be a full-circle moment for Stem, who recalls a school board meeting mourning the loss of life after the 2003 shooting at Red Lion Area Junior High School, but no transformative reform on school and gun safety.

A Central York School District resident, Stem wrote a manifesto on Facebook shortly after the district closed its schools for three days last month, expressing the “terrifying” feeling she has when she learns of a school threat.

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“You have trouble sleeping and are searching for the answers as to how this could have happened at your school in front of your classmates,” she wrote in the post. “And 15 years later you are still able to describe that day like it was yesterday.

“Does this sound funny? NO!” Stem wrote.

With the march and subsequent rally, Lauder hopes York County residents will take a closer and more serious look at the issue.

"This is a reminder that it happened here," she said.

The March: Attendees are asked to gather at Continental Square in York City at 10 a.m. on March 24 before heading down East Market Street toward North Duke Street and gathering for the rally atop the steps of the old York County Courthouse at 28 E. Market Street.

For more information, follow the March for Our Lives social-media channels on Instagram (@marchforourlivesyork), Twitter (@marchinyork) and Facebook.