STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
MARBLE FALLS — Marble Falls High School students knew there was little they could do to comfort the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
But that didn’t stop the Mustangs from sending cards or signing a 5-foot banner with logos from each school expressing their concern, condolences, and well-wishes weeks after a tragic shooting at the Florida high school took 17 lives on Feb. 14.
The idea for well-wishes came from English teacher Kimberlee McLeod, who saw the #KindnessMatters initiative on social media.
Senior Anna Herrington signed the banner because she wanted to extend her condolences.
“I know there’s nothing in the entire world that will ease their pain or what they went through,” she said. “I wanted them to know I was thinking about them. I’m walking alongside of them.”
On Feb. 14, a gunman walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with a semi-automatic rifle and began shooting, eventually killing 14 students and three faculty members as well as wounding several others. Law enforcement took the suspected gunman into custody after he had left the high school campus.
Following the shooting, students across the country have reached out to the Parkland youth to show their support with cards, letters, banners, and videos. The students — both in Parkland and other communities across the U.S. — have also started advocating for better campus safety as well as other steps to prevent future school shootings.
Marble Falls sophomore Kenadee Stewart wrote on the banner that Douglas students are in her thoughts and prayers and she’s sorry for what they’re enduring. She encouraged them to stay strong.
“I feel like that’s the least I could do after what they’ve experienced,” she said. “When I tell someone I’m going to pray for them, I really do, I mean that. Given my age and restrictions, that’s the one thing I know for a fact I can do.”
Senior Emily Woods sent a card that told the students grief will come in stages. She knows firsthand after experiencing the loss of family members.
“I told them that I love them and I’m praying for them,” she said. “It may not help, but I told them I was there for them regardless. I just wanted them to know somebody cares. I wanted to show them I was thinking about them.”
McLeod remembered the aftermath of the shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado on April 20, 1999.
The teacher said she is tired of not being shocked by school shootings.
“I want to inspire my kids,” she said. “They don’t have to accept this future. They can be kind to one another and not alienate.”
Soon after the shooting in February, students had discussions about school safety and identifying red flags from others.
“They want to fix this,” McLeod said. “They don’t want this to be their normal. Now that they’re saying it, they’re planning what they can do to fix it. It is a source of inspiration on a daily basis.”