VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — While schools across Hampton Roads participated in walkouts to protest gun violence in schools, students at one local high school decided to pray instead.
At Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School in Virginia Beach, they read the names of the 17 victims of the Florida school shooting one by one and said a prayer after each.
“We really wanted to make the focus on the idea of solidarity and that we’re praying for the deceased.” said student organizer, Maddie Bettencourt.
The school’s principal, Dr. Paul Fallon, said the service was organized by the students and sanctioned by school administrators as an alternative to a walkout.
“To walk out sends a message, that’s good for you and your school, but here these students didn’t stop with that, they reached deep inside to the level of prayer, knowing that’s all we can do from this distance.”
After prayers, the students signed their names and special messages of hope and healing on a banner they will send to the Florida school.
We’re going to ship it out there and show them that we were with them through this time,” said Casey Cummings, a student organizer.
Bettencourt said it is their way of making a difference, “We took more of a step in actively supporting them, it’s not just standing around.”
Students were not required to attend, and not everyone did, but organizers say with more than 200 in attendance they were very pleased with the turnout.