White Ribbons

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It’s a bright, sunny Friday morning. Outside, tied to the gate of the east field on the ACP-Erie campus, are hundreds of small white and rainbow ribbons gently fluttering in the wind, each one symbolizing a human life. Friday, April 20, 2018, marked the nineteenth anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting in which the lives of 13 individuals were lost. On this morning, thousands of students across the U.S. stepped out of the classroom to observe an extended moment of silence for all victims of school shootings since Columbine.

The array of white, blue, red, yellow, and green ribbons that stood outside the main building during the anniversary of Columbine was the result of sophomore Hayden Cristofano, with the assistance of junior Julia Rome, who wanted to commemorate the young lives that were lost in school shootings.

“The intention behind the ribbons was to create a memorial for all those who have died and have been injured in these shootings. We wanted to create a visual representation to demonstrate how many students have been affected by school shootings,” commented Julia Rome.

Hayden Cristofano, the main organizer of the event, also stated that the idea was to try to “draw away from political arguments and focus on the important aspect, which was honoring the lives who have fallen victims to these horrific and violent acts.”

In regards to how the word spread to notify students of the memorial, Julia noted that “The event was not able to be announced at school due to the memorial being a student-led event. Social Media was primarily used to make students aware of what would be taking place Friday during success.”

Hayden Cristofano and Julia Rome wanted to provide these young students with an extended moment of silence to not only honor the lives of these students but to also encourage others to reflect on how the lives of families, friends, and acquaintances were impacted by the loss of their loved ones. There are approximately 665 ribbons, each one symbolizing a life affected by school shootings. Hayden emphasized that “it is important to recognize the impact. Hearing the number does not convey the same effect as seeing it. Again, it is important to recognize how many lives have been killed and have been hurt.”

At the same time as the anniversary of Columbine, a national walk-out was taken place, marking the ongoing movement regarding gun control laws. Hayden and Julia both gave a final word in regard to how shootings such as Parkland had affected them:

Hayden: “Personally, it is really heart-wrenching that students have to worry and go through school shootings. It’s always upsetting to hear the number of students lost. Recently, I have had a friend who passed away. Just knowing the amount of people who were impacted by the passing, friends, family, even acquaintances, and multiplying that number to 700, all those students who have died, it is incomprehensible.”

Julia: “For me, school should be a safe place for students, teachers, and staff. I have talked to my parents and grandparents about their educational experience, and they never had to worry about school shootings. Yes, there were other aspects that they had to experience. My grandparents, for instance, had to go through bombing drills. The fact that students have to go to school fearing for what is going to happen, the fact that we have lockdown drills, is nerve-wracking. Students shouldn’t feel scared to learn.”

Thank you to Hayden and Julia for taking the time to set up a memorial for individuals who have died during school shootings.

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