On Wednesday morning, March 14, Mount Madonna School (MMS) middle and high students participated in the National School Walkout day, with a short hike to a nearby fountain on their campus. At the same time, MMS fifth grade students, with parent permission, held their own silent vigil outside of their classroom.
“Watching 10-year-olds think of others and make this choice to sit in silence really sealed my belief that our youth is what will change the world for the better,” commented teacher Jessica Cambell.
“We participated in the National Walkout because the administration and faculty wanted to provide the space and opportunity for students to express themselves,” shared Upper School Director Shannon Kelly. “We talk to them so much about social activism and engaged citizenship, it was important to give them the space to practice both of those things.”
“Sometimes, it takes a community loss to bring us back together,” reflected Dean of Students Bob Caplan. “Yesterday morning at 10:00am, the students, faculty and staff of Mount Madonna School took 17 minutes out of our bustling, busy day to stand still by our lake, in the rain.
“In solidarity with many thousands of students, faculty, staff and families throughout the country, we stood silently, allowing our hearts and minds to ponder the loss and injury of those Parkland Florida youth and adults, as well as so many other losses for so many reasons around the world. As we dropped flower petals into the lake after 17 minutes of silence, the names of those killed in Florida were read.”
“Theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking died yesterday,” said teacher Tiffany Wayne, addressing the assembled group. “He studied the universe and he once said, ‘It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love’.
“These people were loved:
Alyssa, Scott, Martin, Nicholas, Aaron, Jaime, Chris, Luke, Cara, Gina, Joaquin, Alaina, Meadow, Helena, Alex, Carmen, Peter
“These are the people who were loved and lost.”
The vigil closed with the reading of one of Maya Angelou’s poems in which she seeks to inspire people to summon the courage to face each new day with possibilities of new choices and new outcomes.
Teacher Haley Campbell read aloud the second portion of Angelou’s poem, beginning with the line, “The rock, the river the tree, your country.” The entire poem follows:
Lift up your hearts.
Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginnings.
Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me,
The rock, the river, the tree, your country.
No less to Midas than the mendicant.
No less to you now than the mastodon then.
Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister’s eyes,
Into your brother’s face, your country
And say simply
“Sometimes we need a solemn moment to help us return to the joys of life,” reflected Caplan, “and a renewed reverence for the well-being of others.”