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MacAfee Students’ Message To Florida High Schoolers: You’re Going To Be OK

Some of the MacAfee Road School students who are writing letters to students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fl. Counterclockwise, starting in foreground: Sam Bocchino, Sydney Bobbitt, Patrick Ziegler, Jayla Davis, Laila Lewis and Duayne Hunt.


Students at MacAfee Road School have a message for Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas high schoolers: We’re sorry, and you will be OK.

The elementary school students are writing letters to their older counterparts in the Parkland, Fl., high school, the scene of the Valentine’s Day shooting which left 17 students and faculty dead and 15 others wounded.

The project is the brainchild of Marie Jarrett, a Kindergarten and 1st Grade special education teacher at MacAfee.

Jarrett said she’d seen a social media post from someone asking for hand-written cards and letters for the MSD students and she felt inspired.

“A lot of teachers there want to show their students that communities all over the country support them and they’re not going to be forgotten and they’re not alone,” she said. “To bring it down to the elementary level, I was hoping our students here could write letters to show their support, to say we believe in you, thank you for fighting for us, that kind of thing, because this is a really important cause that doesn’t just affect that high school, it affects everybody all over the country for years to come.”

MacAfee students will have until March 9 to pen their letters and cards, at which time Jarrett will collect them and send them down to Florida.

Jarrett said the gun violence in school issue has affected her since she began teaching in 2012, the year of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Ct.

“It was so devastating to me that his happened to 5- and 6-year-olds,” she said. “It’s not only happening in schools, it’s happening in concerts, it’s happening on street corners, it’s happening in different places all over the country. I’m worried that it’s becoming an epidemic and proposal after proposal after proposal have been brought to Congress, and Congress just keeps voting down every one.”

“It’s just so inspiring to me that after this one, students are speaking up and students are coming together and fighting for their rights for themselves, their families and students to come,” Jarrett said. “I feel that after this, change can come. I want to do what I can on a personal level as far as signing up to volunteer where needed. I feel this is really an important cause that we can get involved in as well.”

School principal Bill Grippo said the idea was “great,” and hoped the entire district would do it.

“Marie sent me an email, she’s a great person, compassionate, and offered this expression from the staff and students,” he said. “I said this wold be great if the whole district did it. I encouraged her to do it.”

Students who are participating in the effort said they wanted to give the MSD students messages of hope, and let them know they’re being thought about in New Jersey.

The Franklin Reporter & Advocate spoke to a half-dozen 3rd- and 4th-graders, asking them why they wanted to write the letters, and what they would say to an MSD student if they could. Their answers follow:

Sam Bocchino, 4th Grade

“I feel that it’s unfair for the students at the Florida high school just because one student was really mad, so he has to let his anger out on people and hurt other people, so I think what he did was bad and we should try to stop that.

“Something I would say to one of the students is, we’re going to make it safer for you so you can feel really safe and not worry about this, so just wait and you’ll feel really better.

Sydney Bobbitt, 3rd Grade

“I think it’s important because there has been a lot of school shootings and it’s hard for them to recover from what happened to their friend or family members, so I just want them to feel OK.

“If you lost a friend, I’m sorry for your loss and me and the other people here will try to help you be safe.”

Patrick Ziegler, 4th Grade

“I think that writing these letters is important because there was a shooting at a school which happens rarely, and I think that we should write letters of hope and happiness to them so they could feel better about what just happened.

“I would say don’t worry, there’s happiness coming your way.”

Jayla Davis, 3rd Grade

“I want to do this because I feel bad for all the teachers and students who lost their lives to a boy who fired shots in the school.

“I would say it’s going to be better because it wasn’t your fault that he did that”

Laila Lewis, 3rd Grade

“Its important because if they’re really sad and if they really miss some of their friends and they’re worried that there’s going to be another shooting, I want to write them a letter so they’ll be happy.

“I would say sorry for your loss if one of your friends got hurt doing the shooting, I would also say that I didn’t know how scared you were but you’re going to be OK.”

Duayne Hunt, 3rd Grade

“It’s important to write these letters so they feel OK about what happened at their school.”

“If I could talk to someone at the high school, I would say I feel sorry for you if one of your friend’s lives are lost.”

 

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