Volunteers hang banners around the perimeter of Marjory Stoneman High School in Parkland, Fla., to welcome back students who will be returning to school.                                Susan Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP

Volunteers hang banners around the perimeter of Marjory Stoneman High School in Parkland, Fla., to welcome back students who will be returning to school. Susan Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP

Student voice: Quesnel youth respond to Florida school shooting

Correlieu columnist Abby Fisher shares student letters written to Florida survivors

Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate the love of those close to you, although the origin of this westernized holiday is often forgotten. In the third century A.D, Emperor Claudius executed two men named Valentine on this day. Is seems that we have fallen back into old tradition.

READ MORE: Stopping school violence starts with communication

On Feb. 14, 2018 in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School of Parkland, Florida, three teachers and 14 children were murdered. The aftershock of this horror was felt by students as far north as our small British Columbian town of Quesnel. Our students were given a chance to take action, and we jumped at the opportunity.

Kyle Cheng, a grade 10 student at Correlieu Secondary School, took on the task of sending letters of support to the students of Stoneman High. Kids came on their free time to write personal messages to the student body; some simply wishing them love and a brighter future, others sending personal letters of grief.

The collaborative effort brought together a wonderful result. In the end, we sent a Box of Hope – a package of Valentines, if you will. This package represents more than recovery after a massacre; it represents the sorrow we all felt when the stories made headlining news. It represents the fear we had for those kids, and for their families; and the same fear that resides within us. It represents the stand we are willing to take, against people who have the power to make change, but chose not to. In a way, it is these people that have pushed us, young adults, to take on this task.

As I read through the letters being sent, there was one that stayed with me.

“When I heard about your school shooting, I didn’t think much of it, I couldn’t allow myself to. This sounds horrible, but to me it was just another American problem. So for a while, I ignored everything on the internet. Then I heard about our school sending letters, and decided that I needed to know just how bad it actually was. I turned off the light and closed the door to my office. I opened Google, closed Google, turned off my laptop, turned it on and opened up Google again. I typed in Florida School Shooting, and dove into the information.

“I was just reading at first, but then I started to come across more and more videos. One was of parents crying for their children, there was another showing final text messages to mothers, an interview with students, and your “president” shaking hands with first responders and smiling at the cameras because he saw a PR opportunity. Finally I came across what I was most scared of. A Snapchat video of children being killed in a f***ing classroom. I became so angry that my tears blurred the rest of the video, sparing me from the visual, but my imagination was so much worse.

“I was furious. Furious at the system that failed that young man with a gun, and at the government that failed to protect these victims. But more than that, I was furious with myself. I wasn’t there to save you. I know now that I would easily give my own life if it would have stopped that sick man. I am sorry.” – Anonymous