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Robin Huebner, Published January 24 2013

Fargo high schoolers rally in March for Life

FARGO – Nearly 165 Fargo high school students and their chaperones are in Washington, D.C., today for the 40th annual March for Life event.

The pro-life rally follows the 40th anniversary this week of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion.

Most of the students are from Shanley High School, while just over a dozen are Fargo North High School students from the Holy Spirit Catholic Church Youth Group.

The North group made the trip by air, while the Shanley group packed into three coach buses for the 25-hour trek.

“I think this is the largest pilgrimage in Shanley history,” said Shanley chaplain the Rev. Charles LaCroix, speaking by phone en route to D.C.

The Shanley students range from freshmen to seniors and will meet up with the North students for many of the activities.

This morning, they’re attending Mass at Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, one of the 10 largest churches in the world.

At noon, they gather for the March for Life rally on the National Mall, featuring speeches by March for Life President Jeanne Monahan and several members of Congress.

The crowd could be massive. Previous March for Life events have drawn anywhere from 200,000 to 400,000 people.

This year could be the largest yet because of the tie to the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling.

“I heard it’s going to be a huge turnout, maybe half a million people,” said Emily Alderman, a 15-year-old Shanley student.

Following the rally, the group will march down Constitution Avenue to the U.S. Supreme Court.

On Saturday, the Fargo group will attend the Students for Life of America National Conference.

They’ll also be involved in other activities and sightseeing before returning home Monday.

Students have similar reasons for making the trip.

“It’s important to let people know abortion is wrong,” said Shanley freshman Andrea Vetter.

Nick Craft, who celebrated his 15th birthday on the bus, said: “We can have a big effect on the president (Barack Obama). Youth is what makes America, and we are the future.”

The trip was paid for through individual and event fundraising.

And Shanley High is serious about making sure any student who wanted to attend, could.

“Our activities director, Randy Nelson, purposely scheduled no games during this stretch so our athletes could go, too,” LaCroix said.

Is it crazy to travel that far on a bus filled with teenagers?

“We kind of get our example from St. Paul, who was heard saying he was a fool for Christ. We’re kind of in his footsteps here,” LaCroix said.

“It’s good to invest in earplugs on this trip,” he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Robin Huebner at (701)451-5607