At 10 a.m. Wednesday, Mayfield students and faculty gathered on the North Lawn in prayerful solidarity with students throughout the nation who walked out of their classrooms as part of a movement against gun violence one month after a gunman killed 17 people at a Florida high school.
Forming a semicircle around two sophomore leaders, Harlow Glenn ’20 read the names of each of the people who were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as Ashley Pinon ’20 rang a resonant chime when each name was called.
“We gather today in the midst of a broken world, where gun violence pervades in our society and children are innocent victims,” Harlow said after each victim was remember in a moment of silence. “We cry out for peace. We pray for all those who have been devastated.”
Students in April Garcez’s sophomore theology class organized the prayer service as a way of acknowledging a growing national movement among high school students against gun violence in the wake of the Florida mass shooting.
Student leaders Ashley, Harlow and Agnese Sanavio ’20 worked with Dean of Students Steve Bergen and Campus Minister Teri Gonzalez to organize the service. Head of School Kate Morin approved a special class schedule that carved out about 20 minutes in the day to offer students the option to participate.
“We wanted to give students a non-political opportunity to stand in solidarity with students all over the country and pray for an end to gun violence in the hopes that a shooting like the one in Parkland will not be repeated,” said Morin. “At Mayfield we believe in the power of prayer and in the power of coming together as a community.”
About 100 students, with permission from their parents, walked off campus at 10 a.m. in a peaceful demonstration carrying signs reading “Actions Not Words,” “Fear has no place in School,” and “Enough.” The group spontaneously met up on Orange Grove Avenue with students from Westridge High School before returning to campus as classes resumed.
Mayfield’s prayer service also responded to a “call to action” from the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, which urged their network of schools to “prayerfully and thoughtfully honor” those who lost their lives in Florida. “Let us unite with our Holy Child Schools in prayer and action to end gun violence,” the Society said on its Facebook page.
“Today school shootings are appallingly routine…” the letter said. “As educators and as citizens, we are proud Republicans, Democrats and Independents who believe that our country need not choose between the rightful protection of responsible gun ownership and the necessary prevention of gun violence.
“Never before have so many school leaders from all corners of this great nation, from every type of school, spoken with one voice to address a single issue,” said the letter, which was signed by heads from many Catholic schools including Mayfield Junior School, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, Marymount High School and Alverno Heights Academy. “We are moved to do so on behalf of all this nation’s children, whose welfare in our common duty to ensure.”