Exactly one month after 17 students died at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Florida at the hands of 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, students across Iberville Parish paid tribute to the victims.
In Parkland, Fla,, where the school is located, well over 3,000 students participated in a national walkout last Wednesday. They were joined by scores of local students in a unified show of support.
A letter from Superintendent Arthur Joffrion, Ed.D., sent to members of the Iberville Parish School Board members and administrators of schools in the parish announced, “We wanted to let you know how our schools and programs are recognizing today (last Wednesday) as a day to remember those who lost their lives to school violence, specifically in the Florida shooting, and gun violence in general.”
“We wanted to keep today focused on instruction but we also wanted to give students a positive voice to their concerns and have them reflect on ways to prevent conflict in our schools,” Jofrion continues in the letter.
“We wanted to take the approach of making a positive difference in memory of the tragedy, rather than staging a protest that could be considered negative, we wanted our students to be able to experience something positive because of it,” Joffrion said in an interview last Friday.
He said each of the schools in the parish “were allowed to do what they thought was appropriate for their student body and in many cases, they got student body input into what should be done.”
“Most of them took the positive approach by meeting 17 new people, or 17 seconds of silence, making sure to appreciate 17 people that you see on a daily basis,” Joffrion continued.
At Plaquemine High School, Principal Gina LoBue declared the day “Hear Me Day,” a day in which any student who wished could record a brief video snippet to be broadcast.
The students also observed 17 minutes of silence – one minute for each of the Stoneman Douglas High victims – for all of the students who wanted to participate.
Two schools, MSA-W and White Castle High School elected to observe the solemn occasion as “National Walk Up Day.” Each recognized 17 seconds of silence in memory of the deceased students.
The premise of the activity was for a student to “walk up” to one of the students at their school who sits alone at lunch in invite them to join other students who sit in a group at lunch.
“Walk up to the students who sit quietly in the corner of the room and sit next to them, smile and say, ‘Hi,’” Joffrion said in his letter.
“Walk up to teachers and thank them. Walk up to someone who has an opposing view and get to know them,” he continued. “You may be surprised at how much you have in common.”
MSA-East middle school students observed a moment of silence in memory of the tragedy while high school students there gathered on the front steps at 10 a.m. for 17 minutes of silence and each was given an opportunity to post their reflections with an activity on a Post-It note.