Seventeen: Ending Violence in Schools

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By Tomi Simmons

March fourteenth marked the one month tragedy of the Parkland High School mass shooting. In response to this, many schools decided to perform a walkout as a protest to gun violences at ten am. Although there were many protests, school walkouts, and memorials at ten am; McPherson College held a memorial for seventeen minutes at noon at the gazebo on campus. Students, faculty members and community members were invited to attend. It was held at noon in hopes of a higher participation due to the fact it was midterms week.

The event was created by Professor Shane Kirchnerong, when the nation began talking about doing one after the Parkland shooting. The entire nation has begun to speak up about  violence in schools and what needs to be done to stop it. The walk out was one of the efforts to raise awareness about gun control, violence, and it served as a memorial for the people who have passed away.

When asked about what made him come up with the idea, Professor Shane Kirchnerong stated, “I had heard about the nation wide movement to do something, and for something to happen here, I felt their needed to be structure to it.”  In addition to the professor, the Brethren Church Youth group also helped come up with the event.

At noon near the gazebo on McPherson College campus, around thirty people showed up to pay respect for the seventeen people who passed away. Seventeen people present were given a name of a victim from the Parkland Shooting to read aloud during those seventeen minutes. After a name was read, the entire group stated in unison, “Today we stand together to say enough.” Along with the name of the student, there was a detail about them that impacted who they were. Student Courtney Weesner said about the event, “Today was really powerful, and I’m so proud to go to a college where these discussions are encouraged. I came out today because students shouldn’t be afraid to go to school, an institution that is supposed to be a safe place. I came out today because I want change.”

February fourteenth, through a tragedy, seems to have been the wake up point for America to be discussing change and safety in schools. This starts even right here at McPherson College.