Columbus students march to D.C. for changes on school safety and gun violence

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - As thousands of students and parents prepare to take the streets of Washington D.C. and cities across the nation for the upcoming "March for Our Lives," three high school students from Muscogee County said they will make the trip north and use their voices to affect change.

Nicole Throlson, Taylor Helms, and Alaina Hoofnagle said they will join the protests that have put school safety, mental health and gun violence in the national spotlight.

"Why [would you] want to do this?" News Leader 9 asked. "Why are you wanting to go, to participate and be physically there?"

"I don't want to see this persist, to be a problem when I have kids, and they're in school," Hoofnagle said. "I'm just one person, but it's one step in the right direction."

"We owe it to the victims and their families, and all the future victims," Throlson said, "to at least say we tried to make a difference when we knew something wasn't right."

All three students attend a Muscogee County district school; the district recently held its own event, a teleconference between local representatives and student delegates. District officials said this was an alternative to letting kids leave their classrooms and join the National Walkout from schools this past week.

Throlson, Helms and Hoofnagle said they feel their elected officials have not heard their pleas for change.

"How do you see the system right now?" News Leader 9 asked. "What are your thoughts on the ability to exercise your right to vote?"

"I think it would be quite silly to ignore what the nation is crying out for attention on," Throlson said. "You can't just ignore the population when it comes to stuff."

"Right now," Helms said, "they're just kind of valuing their money over citizens' lives, and that's not how it should be."

Hoofnagle said she plans to vote soon, once she turns 18 this June. "I have hope for our government in the future because of the youth."

News Leader 9 will continue this conversation, as part of a series of stories where students will talk about the policies they want to change, as well as hear from community members who support other viewpoints in the ongoing discussion.

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