With 90 students – two full buses – Madawaska Valley District High School had the largest number of public high school students to participate in the National March for Life on May 8.
LifeSiteNews.com spoke with the chaplain involved in the success and received feedback on the March from some of the students.
14-year-old Alyssa Rogers reflected, “When I went on the March for Life I was amazed at how much emotion was in their voices while they chanted against abortions. In the beginning I only wanted to go to get out of school for the day, but during the march, it really made me think. I went there thinking that abortions were alright if the mother was going to abuse it while it was in her stomach. I now think that no matter what the circumstance, the child is still a human being, living, moving, and alive, which is the way it should stay.”
Andrew Baklinski, the chaplain at the public high school spearheaded the effort to have students attend the march. Baklinski, a father of five, has an enthusiasm for the pro-life movement that is infectious.
“I have been very involved in pro-life work my whole life,” Baklinski told LifeSiteNews.com. “I see it as the human rights struggle of our time, a struggle on which hinges the fate of our civilization. I am unashamedly prolife in my classes and in my pastoral work at our school trying to build a culture of life and I think this is key. In other words, not skirting around tough issues, but facing them with love, intelligence, passion and humor. It has been my experience that young people are open to the message – perhaps more open than my generation (Gen X) and that given the opportunity they will get involved.”
18-year-old Aneta Dabrowska said, “The March for Life was life-changing! And that’s the truth!”
She recalled, “Before the March I felt that, yes, abortion is wrong but if I ever became pregnant at this age I would get an abortion. After I went to the March for Life, my views completely changed. Seeing those poor dead aborted babies in the posters during the March traumatized me for days. Now I know that if I ever became pregnant in my life I will never get an abortion, no matter how pressured I get. Babies, no matter how old they are, even if they don’t have developed toes, have every right to live as we do. This March for Life was amazing! And I plan on going for many more years to come!”
Asked if he had any pointers for other teachers to help encourage students to come to the march, Baklinski said, “I also schedule a trip to a local mall for shopping and dinner and this is great way to help motivate students to come who would not otherwise be interested in going. Some of the strongest testimonies of ‘conversions to life’ come from students who were just along to go shopping…”
17-year-old Josh Furniss recalled, “Going into the March for Life I said I was pro life, but I realized that I didn’t really know what that meant until I was actually walking. The march for me was the final stage in allowing me to fully say that I was pro life, being a 17 year old male with a girlfriend. I know that if we ever ended up in a situation where abortion was a choice we had, it wouldn’t even be a thought in my mind. Pro Life!”
Baklinski also encouraged fellow teachers to be informed on the issues. “Do not be afraid to stand up against the culture, but, know what you are fighting. You can’t effectively fight an enemy that you do not know or understand…Get others in your community to do the same for you. Be articulate and passionate about standing up for life and you will attract young people wherever you are. Do not be afraid of being considered a radical. The first apostles were. Do not be afraid about reaching out to ‘marginalized’ youth at school. They will often be your strongest supporters. Meet our youth where they are at. Challenge them and they will rise to the occasion.”
18-year-old Maxeen Kiedroski has attended the March for Life three times previously and remains impressed. “I always end up meeting so many new people, also speaking up for what they think is right. It’s a great way to make new friends and make a bigger, better difference with them. I always feel better about myself, almost lighter, after the march.”
Despite her frequent attendance, Kiedroski too was changed at this year’s march.
“The abortion pictures this year brought tears to my eyes because, for once, I opened them. I don’t think I ever really SAW the pictures as what they were, what they meant. I saw them as little mangled pieces of meat but my mind wouldn’t let me think of them as a person, as a human being. This year I did, I opened myself up to it and let it kick in, and it HAS changed me. I finally saw the full truth about abortion, and how horrible it is. The March for Life let me see more, become more experienced and gave me the inspiration to speak up about it. I never want to stay silent again.”
[16May08, John-Henry Westen, Barrys Bay, ON, LifeSiteNews.com]