On Dec. 21, 2012, the Peninsula Clarion ran the following editorial after a horrific school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. As the Clarion was going to press on Saturday, students across the country were participating in rallies and marches following yet another school shooting, this one in Parkland, Florida.
Since the Newtown shooting, the law enforcement response to active shooters has changed and school districts continue to implement stricter security protocols while state and national leaders continue to debate what to do about gun violence.
In Alaska, we have a different view of firearms than people do elsewhere, but the national conversation remains relevant. Active shooter drills have become part of the school routine, and students and educators, after each shooting, wonder, “Could it happen here?” and, “What will I do if it does?”
We still don’t have good answers as to how to prevent more of these tragedies from happening, but we still share the same sentiments we had six years years ago:
We had to do something.
That’s the sentiment expressed by Soldotna High School students this past week as they arranged themselves in the shape of a heart for a photograph to be sent to Newtown, Conn., the site of a horrific school shooting a week ago.
As our nation comes to grips with the events at Sandy Hook Elementary School, we are grateful for the reactions to the tragedy by the SoHi student body, and from our school district and community.
A moment of silence was observed in schools around the district on Monday, and students were given grade-appropriate opportunities to express their thoughts. Likewise, a candlelight vigil was organized in Leif Hansen Park in Kenai, as in many communities around the state and country.
Students at SoHi, and in many other school settings, became aware of the shooting soon after it occurred as information spread via social media and text message. By midday, students had started outlining a plan to reach out and connect with those affected by the shooting. They wore white for their photo, gesture symbolizing their support for Newtown.
“I know that wearing something doesn’t do much, but it’s about the thought that counts,” SoHi senior Jonathon Kreider told the Clarion. “We can’t really give much, we can’t give any kids back but we can give what we can.”
We can’t say it any better than that. We’re heartened to see that our community’s young adults are more engaged with the world around them than we sometimes give them credit for.
In the coming weeks and months, there will be plenty of debate about what should or shouldn’t be done to prevent such tragedies in the future.
In the meantime, we’ll echo the message we heard from high school students: There are times when reaching out with your heart to fellow human beings is the most powerful statement you can make.