Memorial walk held for victims of Florida shooting

Eric McLaughlin

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One month after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, the entire Malvern student body participated in a memorial walk and chapel service on March 14 to honor the 17 victims.

The silent walk started in the bus lane next to the O’Neill Center. Students followed the Cross in a procession around the ring road in silence, finishing at the Chapel.

When students entered the chapel, they saw poster-sized images of each of the 17 victims of the Parkland shooting. During the prayer service, seniors and juniors read short biographies of each of the victims and placed roses in front of the posters. Head of School Fr. Donald Reilly O.S.A. opened and closed the service with prayerful reflection.

Unlike many school walkouts nationwide on this date, Malvern’s memorial was not themed on any political or legislative action around gun violence. According to the National School Walkout website, more than 3,100 walkouts were planned for March 14 at schools nationwide as a protest to push legislative action on gun reform and a memorial to the Parkland victims.

Twelfth Grade Academy Leader Mrs. Harriet Lappas and a group of seniors and juniors helped to organize and lead Malvern’s service.

“The students chose for the event to be non-political,” Lappas said.

An email sent out to faculty, parents, and students announcing the walk explained that that it would be a solemn event in line with the school’s Augustinian values.

Senior Louis Margay was one of the students who helped to organize the walk and service. He noted that the walk was not the same as the walkouts that happened at schools across the country.

“It’s not really a walkout because—I didn’t really decide this, I don’t know who did, really—given the community Malvern is, we didn’t want to have political statements against guns or anything,” Margay said. “It’s just basically like a memorial for the victims rather than a push for legislative change or something in politics.”

Margay recognized the difference between Malvern’s memorial and other schools’ walkouts, which many Malvern students watched today via social media.

“Mrs. Lappas needed help, and I thought it was a good way to pay tribute to victims of this. You can’t please everyone,” he said.

Freshman Chris Buysse appreciated the fact that the walk was not politically centered.

“I thought it was great because it kind of had a way to please everyone. Nobody could have possibly gotten offended by that because we were respecting the lives of all those who were lost,” Buysse said.

Many people agreed that the service was very solemn and respectful to the victims.

“It was a really solemn experience and I felt that this brought to light the fact that those were 17 people—something that you really don’t look at with other school shootings. We really looked at them as a figure and we showed that they were people,” sophomore Colin Dougherty said.

Senior Drew Brady, who carried the Cross during the procession, agreed. “I think it was good. I think everyone took it really seriously. It was a good time to reflect on the lives of the people in Parkland,” he said.

English teacher Mr. John Bohannon was impressed by the outcome of the memorial. “I have told many students that I’ve seen that this was one of Malvern’s finest moments,” he said.

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Photos: Alex Haylock, Chase Bennett

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type=”1_3″][et_pb_blurb _builder_version=”3.0.66″ title=”Chris Buysse ’21” url_new_window=”off” use_icon=”off” image=”https://lantern.news/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Buysse.jpg” use_circle=”off” use_circle_border=”off” icon_placement=”top” use_icon_font_size=”off” background_layout=”light” body_font_size=”12″ border_style=”solid” animation=”off” saved_tabs=”all” global_module=”12213″]

“I thought the main takeaway from that was definitely just being able to honor the victims with everyone in our school. I thought it was great taking away an hour of our day to remember what happened in that horrible crime.

I thought it was great because it kind of had a way to please everyone. Nobody could have possibly gotten offended by that because we were respecting the lives of all those who were lost.”

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“It was a really solemn experience and I felt that this brought to light the fact that those were 17 people—something that you really don’t look at with other school shootings. We really looked at them as a figure and we showed that they were people.

I thought it was an interesting experience with the prayer, spiritual aspect of this. God is involved in all of this and it is different going to a Catholic school and experiencing this because there is the whole spiritual aspect of the school that is not accounted for at other schools. This was a nice peaceful way to commemorate everybody because everybody here can agree that it is right and respectful to honor their lives.”

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“It was interesting how Father Reilly took a religious standpoint in regards to the shooter, and how we should pray for him. It’s a tough thing to do.”

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“The walk should have been displayed as optional, but the chapel service was beneficial towards what the school was trying to do.”

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“It was peaceful and spiritual. It made you think and reflect on your own life.”

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“I thought the walk was good, but I thought it was kind of pointless, but the Church service was good. I think [keeping it non-political] would protect the school and all the students.”

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