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Encouraging Courageous Conversations

Mar 14, 2018 | All School, Impact, Upper School News

Contributed by Brian Burchik, Director of Spiritual life
Today, March 14, marks one month since the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida that tragically claimed 17 lives.
Determined by students across the country, 17 minutes on this day of remembrance would otherwise be known for standing up for all lives lost to gun violence. With careful consideration for respect and safety, Mount Vernon students expressed themselves however they felt comfortable, during the national 17-minute period, beginning at 10:00 a.m.
This short period would occur during Upper School chapel. School Administrators believed this was an opportune time for all students to reflect, in their own way. For those who wished to walk-out in solidarity, several students had planned for a moment of silence on the 17-yard line of the football field. For those students who would choose to remain in the gym, they were provided with meaningful time for music, reflection, and prayer.
Some students chose to walk out to honor the seventeen Parkland victims and stand in solidarity with the movement that Parkland students are now seeking to advance in regards to gun control.
The remaining students remained in chapel to engage in reflection, thoughtfully offering their thoughts and prayers for loss, loved ones and those in need.
We are so proud of all our students — for those who exercised their freedom to walk out and those who remained inside to reflect. While not taking any position as a school, it is our responsibility to afford our students the freedom to create their own opinions and paths. We encourage our students to ask questions, think critically, communicate, collaborate, have empathy, and seek solutions to make an impact. All of our students respectfully demonstrated these characteristics and more.
“With much respect to the amazing Parkland High School students that are doing a lot of good, I chose not to walk-out because in my opinion, the country is so divided and this only continues that. I feel that it’s wrong to mix mourning for victims with political agendas. I am a conservative that believes in gun control in some form. I would not want to be wrongly labeled as insensitive to what happened in Parkland.” – Senior
“This opportunity gave plenty of people the chance to express their opinions on new-world issues. Students made choices with which they seemed confident. Since the event was student-led, it seemed like it was ours, we could do it if we wanted to, or not. This is such a sensitive topic, so I can see how some students would identify with their position, politically, while to me – it was all about preventing more loss in any way.” – Junior