School districts honor memory of Florida school shooting victims

Published 7:00 am Thursday, March 15, 2018

By Victor Tun

Leah McEwen

and Mrudvi Bakshi

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Picayune Item

Students attending schools within Pearl River County and the two municipalities were allowed to remember those lives lost during the school shooting in Parkland, Fla. on Feb. 14.

A national movement entitled #ENOUGH asked schools across the nation to participate in a protest event at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Students at Picayune Memorial High School who decided to participate were able to take a 17 minute break to honor the 17 student victims involved in the shooting.

“This is a good opportunity for not just us here at Picayune, but everyone in the country, to share our thoughts and remember the victims of the tragedy that took place last month,” student Latoya Ducre said.

During the event, students had the choice of staying in the school’s courtyard, signing a banner located near the front office or joining others in a prayer.

Students Jacelyn Hilbert and Shelly Thompson said they were happy to be able to participate in a national movement that shows how students care about school violence and they hope school shootings will cease. Thompson said she feels that if students support the same cause positive change can be achieved.

Students at Poplarville High School were also allowed to honor the memory of those lost at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.  Poplarville Superintendent Carl Merritt               said that due to upcoming testing the event was held early that day. As a result, students were finished with their participation before 10 a.m.

Merritt said any interested student was allowed to leave class and sign one of two banners. One banner will be hung at the high school for the remainder of the year while the other will be sent to Marjory Stoneman Douglas as a sign of solidarity.

The banners read, “2-14-18 ‘We Remember.’”

After signing the banners, students and staff participated in a moment of silence in honor of the fallen students and walked around the campus.

Merritt said he was surprised at the number of students who decided to participate in the event.

“We were really happy with the students and how they conducted themselves,” Merritt said. “They were very respectful.” 

A weekly day of remembrance will now be held every Thursday at the high school where students and faculty will be asked to take a moment of silence to honor the fallen, Merritt said.

The superintendent said he felt the event was very positive and hopes that students can be a source of change for the nation.

Students at Pearl River Central High School participated in the #ENOUGH demonstration as well.

PRC students gathered at the football stadium where 17 PRC students acted as representatives of the  17 students and faculty who lost their lives. On the field each student held a card with the name of a victim. As the name of each victim was called, the student with the corresponding card stepped forward to recite facts about that person before releasing a balloon.

Superintendent Alan Lumpkin said he was proud of the students for using that time to advocate for school safety and remember the lives lost in Florida.

“School safety starts with you and starts with prayer and love for one another,” Lumpkin said during the assembly. “I want to thank you for being a student body that’s loving of each other and the staff members.”

“We want to show people that it’s not good to shoot students,” PRC student Anna Grace said.

Grace said the events of the shooting were especially terrifying to her because one of the victims, a 14-year-old soccer player, was the same age and had the same interests.

Alston Lossett, student organizer of the event, said he wanted to do his best to honor the families of the victims.

“I’m on the swim team and there was a swimmer killed too,” Lossett said. “I know a lot of people were making it a political thing, but I wanted to only focus on the victims and their families on the one month anniversary.”