Students remember and pause
Posted on 03/15/2018
17 desks represent victims

On the one month anniversary of the deadly school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, approximately 50 Orange County Public Schools participated in National Walkout Day to honor their memory.

OCPS encouraged student leaders to work with administrators to create a safe event for their student body. The OCPS students who organized remembrance events at schools across the district today have varying political views, but felt strongly that they wanted a way to honor the victims of the tragedy in Parkland. They were respectful of each other’s views and beliefs, even when they were different than their own.

At Ocoee High School, the Student Government Association organized a variety of activities throughout their courtyard. Their biggest message was “17 New Friends.” They encouraged their peers to meet 17 people and collect their contact and social media information on the handout provided.

Ocoee also had two separate memorials with 17 desks designed to represent the student who died, three sets of banners for students to write a message to MSD, and live musical performances.

Students mingled throughout the chaperoned area writing messages, talking to friends and meeting new ones.

“This was our time to show we stood with MSD in a time of need. It could have been any of us. Since it happened in our state, it really hit home,” Lukas Anderson, SGA president, said. “The memorials gave you a visual. It was no longer a news story about 17 victims, it was the 17 victims. Reiterating that loss was powerful.”

Wekiva and Boone High School also had the 17 desks as part of their event to help remind observers these were 17 people at a school who lost their lives.

In addition to the memorial, Wekiva student leaders also gave each student a “See It…. Say It. Stop the Violence" wristbands, the chorus sang "We Are the World," and two seniors addressed the student body. Following the addresses, they released 36 butterflies to represent the 17 dead and others injured.  

Boone’s SGA organized a variety of speakers that included science teacher Lisa Maccarone, a 2007 MSD graduate, who spoke about how high school shapes who one becomes. She reminded the students that the ones who lost their lives were just like them-- swimmers, soccer players, band and color guard members, ROTC members and teachers - just to name a few. She told them they will forever be tied to their high school, like she is forever tied to Douglas. She urged them to remember we are more alike, than not.

Each of the high schools and some of the middle schools held coordinated events to honor the victims. It was a violence-free day that memorialized the 17 victims of MSD.

Ocoee SGA Poem “Why are we walking out?”

To support safe schools.

To honor those who lost their lives.

To support those who lost family and friends.

To honor those who risked their lives, for the safety of others.

To show our support to MSD and the Parkland community.

To spread peace and love.

To be a part of something bigger.

To raise awareness for mental health.

To stand together as one.

To show that love is stronger than hate.

To show that it’s time for change.

To ask life’s bigger questions.

To show that our generation is capable of change.

To end school tragedies.

To know it’s okay to speak up.

To show that this will not be forgotten.

To not let hate win.