Pittsburgh, Western Pennsylvania represented at March for Our Lives event in Washington, D.C. | TribLIVE.com
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Jamie Martines
Christian Carter, a CAPA senior and one of the student organizers of the Pittsburgh group, leads a chant as students march through Washington during the March for Our Lives event on March 24, 2018.

They wore matching orange shirts, carried orange flags and took to Constitution Avenue with fists raised.

Pittsburgh students had arrived Saturday in Washington, D.C., and they made sure everyone knew it — chanting and marching for about a mile before reaching the official March For Our Lives rally point.

Kyle Fogarty, 16, of Swissvale started losing his voice long before the group of about 200 students paused to take in the rally before the start of the march.

He marched in Washington to put an end to gun violence, he said. The Woodland Hills High School junior said he has lost 15 classmates to gun violence over the past four years. That doesn’t count those who have been injured or felt the impact of losing a friend or family member, he said.

“Fifteen kids that couldn’t go to graduation. Fifteen kids who couldn’t go to prom. Fifteen kids who maybe didn’t even have their first kiss,” he said.

The students came from schools across the Pittsburgh Public Schools system and surrounding suburbs. They marched with arms locked, forming a block that parted crowds. They chanted: “Students united will never be divided; vote them out; they don’t really care about us.”

“It’s great to see all of the people, especially adults, supporting the students,” said Gabby Gubitosi, 18, a senior at Pittsburgh’s Creative and Performing Arts school, or CAPA. “Especially to see how Pittsburgh came together to connect with other strong groups.”

Hempfield Area High School senior Meg Jones, 17, participated in a March For Our Lives rally Friday at the Westmoreland County Courthouse. On Saturday, she joined students from across the country to march in Washington.

“In Greensburg, that was a lot more people than expected,” Jones said of the crowd of about 200, adding that she noticed it was made up mostly of adults and community members.

“But here, it’s mostly entirely youth,” Jones said of the crowds in Washington.

Led by CAPA students and supported by the progressive advocacy organization One Pennsylvania, the students departed from Woodland Hills High School about 5:30 a.m. Saturday.

More than 800 sister marches were scheduled to take place in cities around the world Saturday, including Pittsburgh . But many students thought it was important to join the main national march, organized by the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where 17 people died in a school shooting Feb. 14.

“The opportunity to connect and meet kids from around the country, as well as adult allies, is invaluable,” said CAPA senior Serena Zets, 17.

Woodland Hills Intermediate fifth-grader Esaun Yates, 11, was among the youngest in the group. He visited Washington recently on a family trip “for fun,” he said. The march was “business,” he said.

“It’s fun, and it’s changing the world,” Yates said, adding that he wants to see lawmakers make it harder for people to get guns.

Students like Baldwin High School senior Jonna Backers, 17, called the march a “step in the right direction.” She lost her brother to gun violence and saw this as a chance to address it as a community issue, not just a school safety issue.

“It hurts the people who loved them, and the people around them, and the people in the community,” said Chloe Baker, 13, a seventh-grader at Sacred Heart Elementary. She marched in support of her mother and others in her community who have lost friends to gun violence.

Alexis Kelly, 18, a student at the Student Achievement Center, marched on behalf of people who have experienced gun violence. She was shot in the chest and arm in July, she said.

“Nobody talks about the struggle, that people who have been shot, what they go through,” Kelly said.

She said she hopes the march will get people in power to take the time to listen and understand why students are marching.

“Why don’t the people who have the power care?” she asked.

Jamie Martines is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at [email protected], 724-850-2867 or via Twitter @Jamie_Martines.

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