LANSING | Students from Illiana Christian High School are making a trip to Washington, D.C., this week to join the annual March for Life rally.
The teenagers, mostly upperclassmen but some freshmen and sophomores, left Wednesday evening from Bethel Christian Reformed Church with the nonprofit Illiana Right to Life. About 80 will make the trip, including 40 students and two chaperones.
"We want to go together as an Illiana community with one single purpose," sponsor and Illiana teacher Jeff White said. "It's such a peaceful march where there's 250,000 to 450,000 people."
"In our society over the last six to seven weeks, we've seen some marches that have taken place across the United States that have not been so peaceful and have not been civilized, in a sense. This is a march in which there's a lot of respect for those in authority and respect for the cause, itself."
The March for Life has been held on or around the anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision each year since 1974. This year's rally begins at noon Thursday on the National Mall.
Illiana students have been part of the march for 13 years. White began taking students to Illiana Right to Life's annual banquet, at which the outing was always promoted. Right to Life began busing to Washington, D.C., in 1978.
It wasn't long before students began asking to take part, White said.
"It's taken off," White said. "Many of our students are now working at pregnancy centers. Many are doing things such as having baby showers for teen mothers. So, our scope, oftentimes, leads to students doing other things on their own."
Students submit applications to be part of the event. A faculty recommendation is required and the school narrows the list. Right to Life helps pay for some of the trip, but cost and scheduling conflicts cut the group further.
Illiana tries to balance the group as much as possible by gender and grade.
White said only 10 kids went during the first year. About 80 showed interest this year. Last year, 48 students were on the bus and 50 went in 2013. Many of them pay for the trip out of their own pockets.
"That always impresses me when young people take their own money and use it for a cause greater than themselves," White said.
The group will take advantage of their time in the nation's capital. White said the sight-seeing plan includes visits to the Supreme Court, the Washington monument and the Newseum.