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Santa Ynez Valley Union High School

Santa Ynez Valley Union High School will be the scene of a rally to demand safer schools Wednesday, when student speakers will urge fellow students to contact elected representatives, circulate petitions and register to vote.

Students at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School are planning a peaceful rally Wednesday to demand that elected officials do something to make schools safer.

A student committee is working with the school administration to put together a rally that will coincide with the #ENOUGH National School Walkout the same day, Principal Mark Swanitz said.

“Students should feel safe when they walk onto their school campus,” sophomore Kiara Costarelli said of the reason for the rally she’s helping organize.

Swanitz said students who participate in the school-sponsored rally and act appropriately will not face any academic or disciplinary consequences.

The school will have a supervised alternative activity for students who choose to not participate.

The 17-minute rally starting at 10 a.m. will include tributes to the 17 victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and student speakers who will issue three calls to action.

They will encourage fellow students to write or call their elected representatives to demand action; to sign and circulate a change.org petition on their social media accounts; and to register to vote if they are or soon will be old enough.

“No matter what our opinions or beliefs, we can all come together and agree that something must be done to protect the students of the United States,” said Bella Manreda, a senior and one of the rally organizers.

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“Since the adults in Congress are not taking action, it’s time for students to stand up and make our voices heard,” she said.

Swanitz said he is impressed with the group and their desire to get involved and bring about change.

“Kiara and Bella found out they were both interested in staging a walkout event,” he explained. “They decided to combine their efforts and approached me for school support.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the maturity and professionalism these young women and the others on the committee have demonstrated in organizing this event, he added. “Seeing their leadership and activism gives me great hope for the future.”

This report was compiled by News Editor Mike Hodgson. He can be reached at mhodgson@leecentralcoastnews.com.

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