Lyme School and wider community gather on the one month anniversary of Parkland.
An invitation to come together
At Town Meeting on Tuesday, Principal Jeff Valence invited the whole community to join in a special assembly at the school today Wednesday, March 14, at 10am, in memory of the lives lost in Parkland. This date and time was organized by youth across the country as a “school walkout” day. However, Principal Valence, with eloquence and passion we so respect, proposed and conducted something different. Here are some of the words he shared at Town Meeting:
“…Rather than this day being an act of defiance, which it may have to be in some communities, I believe it can provide us a symbol of our common goals. My hope is to invite you to join me in front of the school from 10:00 – 10:17, where we can affirm to one another that our community fosters understanding and befriends the isolated. That we can civilly debate our differences and own our responsibilities, and, above all else, protect those that are vulnerable in a manner in which we can all feel safe- again.
This assembly is neither a protest nor a rally, it is not about politics, or amendments, it is about commitments – commitments to ourselves, to our neighbors and their children and to all those who are alone or need our support. It is Lyme stating to those that learn each day in our schools or gather in any community space, we are committed to civility and our responsibility to care for the well-being of others.
Please join me, please convince me and all that bear witness, that our fears do not define what we expect of one another — that actions resulting from our lesser selves can be overcome by the will of our better selves. That the shadow cast by often overwhelming fear will retreat in the presence of compassion, civility and care for one’s fellow man and woman. I ask you to be a symbol that strengthens our faith that we can all become the person we aspire to be.”
A meaningful gathering
A broad mix of community members joined the assembly this snowy morning. The program began with a moment of silence and the ringing of the school bell 17 times in memory of the lives lost in Parkland. Jeff Valence spoke with compassion and hope, using a mirror to remind us all of where both the sadness and the responsibility lie for creating healthy communities and safer schools. Our own hands and our own hearts are our tools to become the strong, caring community to which we aspire. After the principal’s remarks, Lyme 8th grader, Dylan Hendricks, offered a courageous plea for thoughtfulness about the role of guns.
The assembly was inspiring; and the community discussion continues, in Lyme and beyond. May we listen well and open our hearts and minds to one another, as we seek solutions to the complex challenges we face together.