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"NY Students Quick to Throw Themselves Into March Organizing," featured in "Juvenile Justice" by Clarissa Sosin

03/02/2018

"NY Students Quick to Throw Themselves Into March Organizing," featured in "Juvenile Justice" by Clarissa Sosin

Juvenile Justice: "NY Students Quick to Throw Themselves Into March Organizing"

By Clarissa Sosin 

It was late in the evening on Feb. 16 when Joey Wong’s flight from La Guardia Airport in New York City landed at Fort Lauderdale Airport in Florida. Instead of going to his family’s home, he headed straight to his friend Robert Schentrup’s house. Schentrup’s sister, Carmen, had been killed two days earlier. She was one of the 17 slain by Nicholas Cruz when he entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida with a loaded AR-15.  

The thought of someone walking into his alma mater with an assault rifle and slaughtering students in the hallways where he’d spent the majority of four years of his life was unfathomable.

“Thinking about it, it like shakes me to my core,” he said. 

Wong didn’t leave Schentrup’s house until 5 a.m. the next day. It was the first time the 18-year-old had consoled someone after a death. 

The following days were a blur, he said. He slept little, ate poorly and spent most of his time with other Stoneman Douglas alumni who had returned. When the funerals were announced for Carmen and Nicholas Dworet, another victim Wong knew, he pushed back his return flight so he could attend them. At some point, he’s not sure when, he heard talk of plans for a March 24 event in Washington: the March For Our Lives.

Even though the shooting took place in a tony suburb in Southern Florida, it has rallied high school students in New York City and other cities across the country to join the front lines of one of the nation’s most contentious political issues. Inspired by the fury of the young survivors of what is now knowns as the Parkland shooting, New York’s high schoolers and their supporters are working together to arrange transportation to Washington for would-be marchers. They are also planning a sister march in New York City for the same day for those who can’t make the trip.

Right now, there are nearly 30,000 people on the official Facebook page who plan to attend the march with another 86,000 who have expressed interest. In New York City there are nearly 9,000attendees and 23,000 interested.

Wong, who wears a maroon Stoneman Douglas water polo team jacket around his neighborhood, took it on himself to help organize students at Pace University, where he is a freshman. He’s providing support to the New York City march organizers and working on transportation for the Pace students who want to march in Washington. 

Wong, who has never participated in a march before, said he plans to march mostly with the Pace University contingent but will also spend time with his friend Robert Schentrup and other Stoneman Douglas alumni.

“These [New York] kids don’t know Douglas,” he said. “They don’t know Parkland. They don’t know Florida. So the fact that they are coming to D.C. to support this small little community means a lot and would say a lot.” 

And the inspiration stemming from the Parkland survivors extends beyond march day organizing efforts.

Read the full article.