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Area mothers hold rally to make children feel safe –

by Terri Hogan

Senior Staff Writer

Olney-area mothers used the 19th anniversary of the shooting at Columbine High School to stand together against gun violence.

Organizers say the vigil, held April 20 at Olney’s most prominent intersection — Route 108 and Georgia Avenue — was designed to remember the victims and support the safety of students.

The crowds fluctuated in size, but averaged about 40 people.

“This demonstration was organized by four moms with the common goal of making our students feel safe at school and to let them know that we stand beside them as they start their journey towards making that possible, but we are coming at it from different perspectives,” said Jennifer Zucker, mom and member of Indivisible14.

Nancy Carpenter of the League of Women Voters set up a table to register people to vote, but said that most of the people attending the rally were already registered.

“I think this is very helpful for the moms in the community to come together to send a message that our community stands with our students,” said State Sen. Craig Zucker (D-Dist. 14) of Brookeville, husband of Jennifer Zucker. “The student voice is valued and important.”

Del. Pam Queen (D-Dist. 14) of Olney attended the rally and said it is always great to see the Olney community get active.

“Gun violence is everywhere — all demographics and economic backgrounds,” she said. “There are more guns than people in this country. I hope it makes people at least think about the issue.”

Olney resident Narifa Barnes is the mother of two students. She participated in the rally while one child was at a karate class and the other was at a music class.

“Every time there is a shooting my heart breaks,” she said. “I can’t imagine what those parents go through. This has become the norm, and that is not acceptable.”

Jay Graney, an Olney resident running for the District 4 seat on the Montgomery County Council, has a daughter who attends Sherwood High School and a son who recently graduated.

“I think the problems are accessibility of weapons and bullying,” he said. “These kids have access to guns and then take their vengeance out of their selves or in school. Schools need to address bullying. It’s one thing to hang a poster, but another to get kids the help they need.

Chelsea Curtis, mother of seven Montgomery County Public Schools students, was one of the organizers. She said the rally was “absolutely peaceful” as they had hoped.

Curtis said she and the organizers were hoping that more teens would attend, but understands that they are speaking out in their own way.

“This rally was to let them to know we support their efforts,” she said. “But seeing many students in cars passing by honking their horns and waving to show their support was priceless.”

She said they are hoping the rally will be a springboard to the “Stand with Our Students — a Q and A Session” planned for 2 p.m. May 20, in the Olney Community Room of the Buffington Re/Max building.

Sherwood High School senior and student member of the Board of Education Matt Post is expected to speak at the event, along with other student leaders and local legislators.

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