As a steady rain came down on the Live Oak High School campus on March 14, hundreds of students gathered in the commons area to honor the 17 victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting.
Live Oak students joined their peers at schools in Morgan Hill, Gilroy and Hollister school districts and across the U.S., finding their own way to remember the students and staff killed one month earlier in Parkland, Fla., one of the nation’s deadliest school shootings.
At Live Oak, located on East Main Avenue, 17 student leaders held up printed images of one of those victims, read their names aloud and told a bit of information about their interests, personalities and life aspirations before asking everyone to join in a moment of silence to recognize that individual. Each student leader then placed the image on a small bed of multi-colored roses.
Some students in the crowd who walked out of their classrooms to join the 17-minute ceremony, between 10-10:20am, wore orange as a united front to raise awareness on gun violence. Others held hand-made signs with different messages either honoring Parkland, Fla. victims or calling for stricter gun laws. A small group of Live Oak students stood at the entranceway to campus holding signs during the ceremony as well.
Supt. Steve Betando, Live Oak Principal Maria Reitano, School Resource Officer Jeff Brandon and other site faculty and local law enforcement were onlookers as the student-organized event played out with no shenanigans, just quiet respect amongst the Live Oak student body.
At each of Gilroy Unified School District’s three middle schools and four high schools, students met at pre-determined locations for student-led activities from 10am to 10:17am, according to district staff. These activities included: sending off 17 balloons with the names of the victims in the Florida school shooting; writing comments on a large poster with the names of the 17 victims; writing comments on post-its and hanging them on a large glass wall; carrying posters with the names of the victims and other messages about the school shootings; moments of silence ranging from a few minutes to the full 17 minutes; and ringing of school bells 17 times.
“I am very proud of our students for honoring the victims of the Florida school shooting and for doing it in a very respectful and peaceful manner,” said GUSD Supt. Debbie Flores. “At 10:17am, they quickly and quietly returned to their classrooms.”