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I've been covering education issues since the late 1980s. I remember a time - 1990s, we're looking right at you - when students didn't seem to care about any major social issues. There were years in which the biggest protests I heard were about the lack of student parking. To see teenagers galvanized, fired up and loud is a blessing.

PORTLAND TRIBUNE: JESSIE DARLAND - A student holds a sign reading 'Fear has no place in schools' during the March for Our Lives protest on Saturday, March 24, at Pioneer Courthouse Square. The best part about being a journalist is that we get to jump right into the middle of stuff, as if we belong there.

This past Saturday, photojournalist Jaime Valdez and I headed into downtown Portland to interview people taking part in the March for Our Lives event, to protest violence in schools.

Let me stipulate: There are valid opinions on every side of the issues of guns and violence. And we'd be smart to pay heed to all perspectives.

But it's hard to imagine anyone not being inspired by the young people who marched Saturday, March 24. Their passion, their knowledge and their energy were amazing. You can agree with the premise that we need laws to reduce illegal gun violence, or you can disagree vehemently. But everyone can — or should — agree that seeing young people politically active is intrinsically a good thing.

Valdez and I talked to a whole bunch of students (as well as parents, grandparents, senior citizens and others). One of the arguments currently making the rounds of Twitter and Facebook is that all these young people are pawns being manipulated by leftist grownups for nefarious intent.

What nonsense.

We spoke to many, many students. They weren't there under duress. They weren't "clueless" or "sheep." They had passion about an issue that is important to them. They had cogent arguments, and they gave up their Saturday — a cold, drizzly Saturday, mind you — to make sure their voices were heard.

Well, what about the grownups secretly behind all these kids? Yeah, we ran into some of them, as well. But there's a word for people like that: Parents.

We spoke to parents who came to back up their children, or who were just happy to see them becoming activists, or who were simply playing chauffeur. But whatever the motivation of the parents, the kids were driving this show.

I've been covering education issues since the late 1980s. I remember a time — 1990s, we're looking right at you — when students didn't seem to care about any major social issues. There were years in which the biggest protests I heard were about the lack of student parking.

To see teenagers galvanized, fired up and loud is a blessing.

On Wednesday, March 14, students around the nation walked out of their schools to protest gun violence. It happened at local schools, too. But in Sherwood, several students flew American flags from their cars in support of gun ownership and the Second Amendment.

Those students deserve our praise, too.

I don't care if students are pro-gun or anti-gun. As long as they're pro-something, or anti-anything, and they feel empowered enough to talk about their issues.

Activism beats apathy: full stop.

Dana Haynes is managing editor of The Times and the Washington County Times, sister papers of the Portland Tribune. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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