Salem Hills High School (SHHS) students delivered kindness and support across the United States to Marjorie Stoneman Douglas (MDS) High School students in Parkland, Florida. If you have ever been a part of Salem Hills High, you know that the school culture focuses on supporting each other and others as well as changing the world with goodness.
This past week when the school heard of the tragic shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, many students and faculty felt the urge to reach out in some way. The finance office technician, Kathy Christensen, was planning a vacation and happened to be traveling to Florida in the coming days. When she realized she would be within an hour’s drive of Parkland, she came up with an idea. Students at SHHS created two large posters on which many were able to send a small message of hope, empathy, and compassion to the students of MSD High School. It would be a small gesture, but would give our students a chance to reach out and do something in the face of helplessness.
Kathy took the posters with her on her flight and then drove to the school with no idea how or where to deliver the message to MSD students. In her words, “We approached some police officers and asked them where would be the best place to hang or hand over the posters. I really was amazed how kind and helpful they were considering the chaos and overwhelming sadness their community had recently experienced." Kathy continued, “They directed us to Parkland Park, where a memorial had been set up. We were approached immediately by parents of students from MSD High School. We cried with them as they shared their children's experiences of that tragic day with us. They invited us to their church and prayer service which we graciously accepted. They helped us hang our posters, and people immediately swarmed to read the beautiful messages our students wrote.”
Almost immediately following the delivery and hanging of the posters, a parent from the school wrote Mr. Peery an email thanking him for the act of kindness. Michael Macleod wrote: “Principal Peery, Assistant Principal White and Assistant Principal Reynolds - Thank you, your faculty and your students for sending your poster boards of support. I wasn't certain if anyone sent you photos of how they are displayed, so I thought I would take a few photos from last night and this morning to show you. I'm not sure of the connection between your school and ours but I was particularly moved by this incredibly thoughtful gesture. My son is a junior at Douglas and managed to come home safely, but we mourn those who did not return to their families. In the photos, on the stage, you can see the 17 angels illuminated last night, and your poster boards are displayed in the front. Thank you again for your act of kindness and please extend our gratitude to the students and faculty who helped to organize this display. It means a lot to the entire community here in Parkland.”
One SHHS student, Sadie Stewart, who wrote her Instagram handle on the poster received messages of gratitude from a student at MSD who said, “I want to say thank you for the poster. Us here in Parkland greatly appreciate it and I sat here crying reading all of y’alls signatures and condolences to us. Seeing this at the memorial is awesome and I just wanted to say thank you from Parkland and Coral Springs Florida.”
In the face of immeasurable sadness, it is heartwarming when a small group of dedicated individuals can reach out and make a small difference. SHHS students and faculty are changing the world.
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