Madelyn Olson was a freshman at North Thurston High School in Lacey on April 27, 2015 when a 16-year-old student brought a gun to school and fired two shots inside the busy commons area.
As Olson hid in the corner of a classroom and called her mom, her dad, Brady Olson, a teacher at the school, tackled the shooter.
Now 18 and a student at South Puget Sound Community College, Olson is among the student organizers behind Saturday’s March For Our Lives Olympia, which starts at 11 a.m. on the steps of the Legislative Building and ends in downtown’s Sylvester Park.
“Kids shouldn’t feel like ‘I don’t know if I’m going to come tomorrow,’” Olson said of students too afraid to attend school. “We need to start talking about this reality that we’re living in.”
The march in Olympia is one of hundreds of demonstrations planned across the country to coincide with a larger student-led march in Washington, D.C. against gun violence in schools. The marches come less than two weeks after thousands of students — including many at local schools — took part in a national school walkout to honor the 17 victims of a shooting at a Parkland, Florida high school on Feb. 14.
No one was injured in the shooting at North Thurston. But since then, Olson said, she gets distracted in class thinking about what she would do if there was another shooting, how she would escape and stay safe. Olson has gone with her dad on talks to promote school safety; they both appeared in the 2017 documentary “Shots Fired” about the North Thurston shooting.
“We went through a sliver of what Parkland (students) went through,” she said. “They’re not going to be the same. I’m not the same person I was before the shooting.”
One of her jobs as a march organizer was to talk to local school districts about getting their students involved. Her goal is to get lawmakers to listen to students and advocate for their safety.
“They are where it starts. If we have their support, we can go a long, long way,” she said. “We can do something about this.”
March For Our Lives Olympia
What: Student-led rally and march to end gun violence and school shootings
Who: Organizers expect 2,000 students and supporters to attend
When: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday
Where: Beginning on the north steps of the Legislative Building, marching down Capitol Way and ending at Sylvester Park in front of the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction
More: Attendees are encouraged to wear orange, which is the color associated with gun reform efforts