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Reverent Ceremony Held to Honor MSD High School Victims

Amidst+the+17+lit+candles%2C+eighth+grader+Catherine+Schenk+sings+%22Somewhere+Over+the+Rainbow%22+surrounded+by+middle+school+students+in+the+quad+on+March+14.
Amidst the 17 lit candles, eighth grader Catherine Schenk sings

Amidst the 17 lit candles, eighth grader Catherine Schenk sings "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" surrounded by middle school students in the quad on March 14.

Sai Chigurupati

Sai Chigurupati

Amidst the 17 lit candles, eighth grader Catherine Schenk sings "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" surrounded by middle school students in the quad on March 14.

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On February 14, 17 people – 14 students, two teachers, and an athletic director, were gunned down by a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.  On March 14, schools across the country walked out to honor the victims of the massacre and protest what they feel to be lax laws that make it too easy for individuals in the U.S. to obtain guns. According to an article by Dakin Andone on cnn.com, the movement was begun by “EMPOWER, the youth branch of the Women’s March, and it [was] the main national voice encouraging people to participate.”  

Sai Chigurupati
Jake Zur types 17 ways he can make the world a better place during advisory time on March 14.

At The Benjamin Middle School, the administration planned a more thoughtful, reflective ceremony to honor the victims of the shooting. During extended advisory that day, students typed out 17 ways each of them could make the world be a better place. Their ideas ranged from “no weapons,” to “respecting everybody and their religions” to “be kind to others.”  

After the advisory period, at 1:00 p.m., students and faculty lined up around the quad as student council members read the names of each of the 17 victims who perished in the shooting. After each name was read, the students, faculty, and staff honored the victim with a minute of silence. In addition, English teacher and Student Council Co-Adviser Mr. Nathan Ginnetty lit 17 votive candles in honor of the victims. “Votive candles are typically included in solemn religious ceremonies,” said Ginnetty. “We used the candles to add solemnity to a ceremony dedicated to the students and teachers who passed away.”

Although somber, the ceremony was one the students appreciated.

Sai Chigurupati
Students encircle the quad as they observe 17 minutes of silence, one for each of the victims killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

“It was sad because I realized how real life is, and I am happy that we got to pay our respects to the families because they really did not deserve to die,” said seventh grader Alex Fleming Lake.

At the end of the 17 minutes of silence, eighth Grader Catherine Schenk sang “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” the song made famous by Judy Garland in the family film classic Wizard of Oz.

“Mr. Hagy and Mrs. Devine asked me if I could sing because schools all across the U.S. were singing that song,” said Schenk.

Some people in attendance even got emotional.

“The ceremony actually brought me to tears during Cat’s song,” said eighth-grade science teacher Ms. Sara Featherston  “I realized that this could happen at our school. I saw my students, and fellow teachers during this moment, and it really moved me.”

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Reverent Ceremony Held to Honor MSD High School Victims