It’s been a month since the Parkland, Fla. school shooting and today national school walkouts were happening around the nation today and a middle school in McFarland took part in a different way.
Over 800 6th through 8th graders gathered in the quad of McFarland Middle School to show that they stand with the victims in the Parkland school shooting. “We just wanted a way to be able to show our support for them and the families and the school, we just wanted to do it in a different way,” said Michelle Ortiz, an 8th grader at McFarland Middle School.
About two weeks ago administrators at the school had an idea to have students lead a ceremony rather than a walkout to show their support. “It wasn’t a political move it wasn’t a political walkout we want to make sure that we did something this day that was focused on empathy and giving something back to Florida,” said Manuel Cantu, the principal of McFarland Middle School.
The ceremony started off with students giving speeches on their feelings about what happened a month ago...then they released 17 white balloons to represent every victim. “I think it’s important to have something like this in school because you can show other schools that this school does care,” said Jorge Munoz, a 7th grader at McFarland Middle School. “As we were releasing the balloons I almost wanted to cry,” said Ortiz. Not only was McFarland middle school doing an alternative to these national walkouts, they were releasing white balloons in remembrance and signing some posters with their names.
Administrators hoped that this alternative would accomplish two goals, one put the victims in the spotlight. “We wanted to give back to them and make them the center not gun policy, or gun control, or legislatures,” said Cantu. And two, teach the students empathy. “A lot of students don’t know what empathy is nowadays in a lot of my social skills that I run. I like to teach students what empathy is, understanding how others are feeling,” said Joanna Medina, a school counselor at McFarland Middle School.
After the balloons were released, tables around the quad were set up with papers and pens so students could sign their names and a nice thought for those dealing with loss in Florida. The signed posters will be sent to parkland within the coming week.