Students observe a solemn silence in memory of school shooting victims in Florida

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 March 2018 at 1:29 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

HOLLEY – Students at Holley Junior-Senior High School held a 17-minute memorial observance this morning in the auditorium. The Humanities class in the high school created 17 posters of the victims from the shooting a month ago at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

Members of the class made the posters, and included the victims’ photographs, age, and information about their hobbies and activities at school.

“They’re not just names,” said Matt DeSimone, a member of the Humanities class and also the senior class president.

He read the names of each of the victims during the observance. There was 45 seconds of silence after each name was read.

Alaina Petty, 14, and Meadow Pollack, 18, were two of the victims in the shooting at the Florida school. Other victims include:

Alyssa Alhadeff, 14

Scott Beigel, 35, geography teacher

Martin Duque Anguiano, 14

Nicholas Dworet, 17

Aaron Feis, 37, assistant football coach

Jaime Guttenberg, 14

Chris Hixon, 49, athletic director

Luke Hoyer, 15

Cara Loughran, 14

Gina Montalto, 14

Joaquin Oliver, 17

Helena Ramsay, 17

Alex Schachter, 14

Carmen Schentrup, 16

Peter Wang, 15

Ricky Hodge holds a folded American flag in honor of Chris Hixon, the athletic director at Marjory Stoneman Douglas who was also a veteran.

The Humanities class worked on the program for the past two weeks, researching the victims and created the posters. DeSimone said the class didn’t want the observance to be a political stand about gun control.

“We just wanted to honor the victims,” DeSimone said.

He did the research on Alaina Petty, 14. She was a member of the Junior ROTC. She had strong faith and loved her family and friends, DeSimone said.

“She was just a 14-year-old kid who was going to school,” he said after the program in the auditorium.

Students weren’t required to attend the observance. Susan Cory, the school principal, said about 85 percent of the students in grades 7 through 12 attended the ceremony. Some students chose not to attend because they felt the service might be more against gun rights rather than remembering the victims.

Cory discussed the program with the Humanities class. She didn’t want students to walk out of the school, like so many have done today throughout the country. She worried about the students’ safety if hundreds went outside.

She was impressed with the power of the 17-minute program this morning. Many of the students in the crowd had tears.

“I got choked up,” she said. “It was hard not to.”

Dan Courtney (pictured at right) is Holley’s assistant principal and athletic director. He held the poster for Chris Hixon, the athletic director at Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Every 45 seconds, a different poster representing a victim in the school shooting was turned around, with the face of the victim showing.

“It definitely made it more real,” Courtney said about the service.

After the service, the 17 members of the school held the posters in the hallway.

DeSimone said he appreciated the respect shown by the student body.

“We want to thank you for coming and honoring these victims of school violence,” he said at the close of the program. “Please remember that we as students have a strong voice and that positive change can and will come from our efforts.”

Briana Colucci, a student in the Humanities class, said the Holley students were focused on honoring the victims from the shooting.

“Their lives were lost, but their memory lives on through our unity as a school, as a community, and as a nation,” she said in an opening message to start the program.

Wrist bands are being sold for $1 with proceeds to be sent to Marjory Stonemason Douglas.

Other schools in Orleans County also planned memorial observances inside the schools and team-building exercises to help students connect with their classmates.

The flag is lowered at Holley today.

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