Centennial High School student organizing bus trip to this weekend's March For Our Lives

More than 200 Howard County students are expected to travel to this weekend’s March For Our Lives on chartered school buses, a mobilization effort spearheaded by a Centennial High School junior.

“It’s really just about getting people there,” said Matthew Sorak, the 17-year-old organizer behind the transport. “I just really wanted to make sure it was easy for people to get there.”

The March For Our Lives, a rally organized by survivors of the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Fla., is expected to bring more than 500,000 people to Washington, D.C. on Saturday. In addition to the main rally, 817 “sibling marches” will take place around the globe, including in Baltimore, Annapolis, Silver Spring and Bethesda, according to the event’s website.

Seventeen teenagers and adults died in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The student survivors there immediately began calling for gun control measures, galvanizing protests and activism in schools across the country. Last week, thousands of students walked out of school as part of a national protest against gun violence, including hundreds in Howard County.

Sorak organized Centennial High School’s student walkout, which took place last Wednesday morning.

“I always thought it was kind of an absurd thing that we weren’t changing anything, but I think this time it just became one too many,” he said. “Even before the Parkland students started speaking out, I was already starting things up. It’s hard for me to really say what it was about this time, but I couldn’t stand not doing anything anymore.”

Sorak’s transport is open to anyone in Howard County, not just students, he said, though there are organizers at each of the county’s 12 high schools spreading information about the caravan.

The buses are chartered through a private company, and the caravan is not sponsored by the Howard County Public School System. Sorak opted for school buses because the cost — $16 per person — is cheaper than chartering a coach bus. As of Monday morning, roughly 215 people had signed up.

“We’ve filled four buses so far, and we’re getting close to five,” he said. “But there’s no limit. The company told us they have eight on reserve, but we can have more as needed.”

Financial aid is available for students who can’t afford to pay the $16 fee. To purchase seats, visit rallybus.net/hoco. For more information, contact Matt Sorak at matthewsorak@gmail.com

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