One week after 17 people were murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., students and faculty from across Forsyth County have come together in remembrance and memorial of the lives that were lost.
At noon Wednesday, hundreds of South Forsyth High School students gathered on the school’s plaza to share a moment of silence and release a bright orange balloon for each of the Stoneman Douglas High School victims.
At Forsyth Central High School, 17 minutes of silence were observed on Wednesday afternoon.
At Lambert High School, all students and faculty met Wednesday to discuss the shooting in Parkland, Fla., and methods of school safety.
According to Jennifer Caracciolo, director of communications for Forsyth County Schools, this response from the schools came after the district met Tuesday to “debrief on school safety” in the wake of the shooting.
“School safety has changed greatly since the tragic events at Columbine in 1999. We have implemented safety plans and training, modified our school designs, increased [the number of school resource officers] and grown Social Emotional Learning, to name a few of the many changes,” she said.
Social Emotional Learning is a Forsyth County School program that focuses on improving students’ self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, responsible decision-making and relationship skills.
Caracciolo said that after the debrief, principals from each Forsyth County school were encouraged to review current school training and practices with staff and students.
She said that the idea of parents, students and school staff being accountable for alerting authorities to suspicious behavior was stressed at the meeting.
“If you see something, say something — from parents to staff to students. We are asking all school and district office staff to always be aware of potential safety concerns when in or visiting schools/facilities and to inform school/building administrators,” she said.
Caracciolo said that they also saw this as an opportunity to stress the importance of building relationships between students and staff.
In a letter send out to parents of Forsyth Central High School students, Principal Mitch Young said “Today, we held a school-wide moment of silence for the victims, their families, and school community. For seventeen minutes — each minute representing a lost life — our school went silent, both in word and in technology. As a school, we take no position in any of the debates surrounding the tragedy. Rather, we stand as one to show our love and support.”
In a letter sent out to parents, Lambert High School Principal Gary Davidson said, “Unfortunately, in today’s world a level of inconvenience is a small price to pay for an increased commitment to safety.“
In a letter send out to parents of West Forsyth High School students, Principal Karl Mercer stated that over the next few weeks the school will be making changes to its security protocol, “including securing access to the building and learning cottages at all times, enhancing protocols for entering and exiting the buildings, and making sure everyone is aware of what to do in case of an emergency. “
Caracciolo added that everyone should be aware of the Campus Crime Stoppers program that allows anyone to submit anonymous tips about non-urgent illegal activities by calling and texting (770) 205-4625, or visiting www.forsyth.k12.ga.us/Page/635.
Other schools in Forsyth County may have held memorials for the victims at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, but could not be reached as of press time.