LBHS students take part in remembrance for Parkland victims
By Marcy Stamper
Grief and loss were palpable as Liberty Bell High School students held photos and shared personal details about their peers who died in a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, last month.
They described people who were “vibrant and determined,” “always happy, always smiling,” “a beautiful, smart, talented, successful, awesome, amazing soccer player,” and “an awesome husband, father and American.”
The readings were the centerpiece of a somber remembrance as some 100 Liberty Bell High School students and almost as many community members gathered on a rainy Wednesday morning to remember the 17 students and faculty.
The Liberty Bell students joined classmates across the country in some 2,000 walkouts on March 14, the one-month anniversary of the school shooting, taking 17 minutes out of the school day to honor those lost. The dead included 14 students, ages 14 through 18; and a teacher, a football coach and an athletic director.
Some walkouts across the country included a demand for stricter gun control, but the predominant message was “Enough is enough.”
At Liberty Bell, the walkout was a tribute, a way of ensuring that those who died wouldn’t be another nameless statistic. The Liberty Bell students’ words eloquently summed up the intent:
“On an average day in America, 96 people are killed with guns. These people were complex humans with ideas, hope, people to love, and people who loved them.
“After mass shootings, we don’t mention the name of the shooter; he deserves no notoriety. But we name the victims and we honor them. They deserve to be known.
“We’re going to share the names and some information about each person who had their lives stolen in Parkland, Florida, last week.
“We honor their memories with action.”
The Liberty Bell students then read individual profiles of the victims in Parkland. The readings conveyed the shock and disbelief of friends and family.
“He was a very funny kid, outgoing, and sometimes really quiet … Most of all he was my baby brother.”
“My heart is broken … We lost our daughter, and my son … lost his sister.”
“I’m still wrestling with the idea that she is actually gone.”
They also shared a posting on social media one of the students wrote to his girlfriend, which proved to be his last: “Thank you, Lord, for putting a greater blessing than I could ever imagine into my life this past year.”
The Liberty Bell walkout was organized by students. The school administration took a neutral stance toward the walkout, with classes in session for students who didn’t choose to participate, but no penalty for those who did walk out, said Liberty Bell High School Principal Deborah DeKalb.
More than half the student body did not participate. Although an email about the walkout reminded students “to be respectful of everyone’s choices,” there was some backlash on social media, according to the organizers. Some ridiculed the walkout or threatened a pro-gun rally, they said, but no one interrupted the event.
None of the students at the school who opposed the walkout were interested in sharing their opinions with the media.
March For Our Lives
Students and community members are planning a march in Twisp on Saturday (March 24) in conjunction with the March For Our Lives, a national march started by students from Parkland focused on school safety and on ending gun violence. There will be student and adult speakers before the Twisp march.
Adults in the community “got inspired by the activism and energy of students in Parkland and wanted to help our students and young people get involved,” said Bo Thrasher, a parent and community member helping organize the event. A central focus is to open the conversation about actions that can be taken to end gun violence, she said.
The March for our Lives starts at 10:30 a.m. at the Methow Valley Community Center in Twisp. There is a poster-making event at the Education Station at TwispWorks on Thursday (March 22) from 7 to 9 p.m.