Talon News - Good Local News



December 14, 2018

Students, Teachers, Parents and First Responders gather to share a meal and lend support at Lillywhite Gym December 7, 2018.- PHOTO - TALON

Story and Photos by Jacque Ritchie, TALON

It has been a year since terror and tragedy swept through Aztec. During the past 12 months folks from around the area have struggled to make sense of a senseless crime. To mark the day of December 7, Aztec High School invited parents and first responders to join students, teachers and staff for breakfast. Classes were shortened, students began work on a group art project, extra counselors and therapy dogs were on hand to offer support.

AHS Principal Dr. Warman Hall recently sat down with TALON to talk about the mood on campus on Friday, "A lot of kids, teachers, parents and first responders took this as an opportunity to connect with one-another. It was important to us, not have a script or an agenda that day, that was why we didn't try to have a big presentation or anything. This was about just about spending time with one-another, recognizing the passing of a year, talk about those who are not with us anymore... and it was a chance to talk about what we have been through in the last year and what we hope for in the next year. So I would call it, in a way a, Winter Homecoming... a time to gather and really reflect together."

Dr. Hall together with the students decided that, "Step Up, Stand Up, Speak Up" would be the message of the day. "We met with the kids as a group several times in the last year and really did some brainstorming as early as back in late September." According to Dr. Hall, the student body at large really wanted to engage and have a say about what the theme should be, "The student council was just the nucleus here, at each of the planning meetings, we had on average 60 kids involved."

Dr. Hall explained that last March, AHS students initiated a "walk-up" campaign that encouraged kids to walk-up to fellow students in an effort to include those who may feel left-out. Last Friday's theme expanded on that original message, "The idea was 'step-up' to someone who may need support, 'stand-up' to doing to right thing and 'speak-up' about what you believe in."

Dr. Hall said, "The kids really have a sense now. They are recognizing after a year, there are some differences in the way the adults and the kids in our community want to speak out about issues related to school violence. There are some that are for gun-control and there are others who are gun-carry proponents, so we have both elements in our school and community." Dr. Hall said that both sides of the issue have value, "It is not just about our own opinion, it's about recognizing and processing everybody's opinions, that's the only healthy way to move forward." Dr. Hall hoped that the lessons learned during the last year will carry-over into adulthood. "What I'm really impressed about with these kids is, how they have developed their voice. I'm not about to tell a kid, or a group of kids, what it is they need to say. I figure as an educator what we do...is we help kids develop their own voice, let kids have their opinions, we are not there to refine their opinions." Dr. Hall recognized that while family values play a big role in the development of a young person's attitudes, there should be an element of freedom of thought involved in how students ultimately choose to advocate, "The exchanges that they have with each other, with family and with educators as well, helps them define their own opinions in-as-much-as, what they believe, why they believe it, and that leads them to ask themselves, what am I going to do with this information going forward? What kind of person do I want to be?"


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