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To raise awareness of school violence and to show their support for students in Parkland, Florida, Tomah High School students hosted Blackout School Violence day Friday. Students wore black and wore ribbons of white and silver — white for innocence and silver for Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School — to show their support.

Seventeen people died and another 16 were wounded during a mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School Feb. 14.

Amy King, a leadership and English teacher at THS, said the day of awareness was the idea of students in her leadership class. They discussed the shooting in class after it happened and brainstormed ways to educate and bring awareness to students at THS. The blackout and ribbons were the result.

“I couldn’t be more proud,” she said.

It’s important to get the message out that school violence isn’t OK, THS student Mckenzie Fitzpartick said. She helped create the event.

“(We did this) because school shootings are a very serious thing that happen all around, and it’s becoming so common now and no one is really showing awareness for it, and I think people need to understand that school shootings are real and we need to show that we care and stop it,” she said.

Robert Joyce, THS principal said the day not only creates awareness but creates empathy at the school.

“I think it brings awareness to our students around here the importance of taking care of one another, having empathy for one another and building a strong school culture that values each individual person,” he said. “It’s great that our students are able to dress in the same manner to recognize that there are issues where students may feel left out ... and that we can help student’s needs and also just come together in unity as a student body.”

He appreciates that the show of support is student-driven.

“That’s the beauty of it,” he said. “This isn’t a politically driven decision, it was just simply we want to recognize that lives are valuable and we want to recognize, show our condolences to the lives that were lost in Florida and bring awareness to students here in Tomah that we don’t want to accept school violence.”

Members of the Tomah Police Department also took part in the event by welcoming students to school that morning. Police Lt. Ron Waddell said the police department wanted to take part because school violence is a community concern.

“I would like to believe the police department is part of the community, and it is the community that gives us our authority,” he said. “With that, we need to be represented here.”


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