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March 1, 2018

Candlelight Service in Memory of Florida Shooting Victims

Berry students gathered for a candlelight vigil to remember the victims of the Parkland, Florida school shooting and to console one another.

Katie White, Viking Fusion Reporter  

MT. BERRY, Ga. – On Tuesday, February 20, Berry students gathered at Kilpatrick Commons to participate in a candlelight vigil to honor those who lost their lives in the school shooting that took place in Parkland, Florida.

According to Fox News, on February 14, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz pulled the fire alarm in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Students began filing into the school hallways, giving Cruz the opportunity to open fire with a semi-automatic AR-15 assault rifle. Seventeen people including students and faculty lost their lives as a result, and many others were injured.

A few students on Berry’s campus have lived in the Parkland area and asked permission from the Chaplain’s Office to hold a candlelight service in memory of the students and faculty who were killed.

Sophomore Kristin Rampersad’s house is right next to the school and she attended Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School for two years. She knew Assistant Football Coach Aaron Feis, who was killed, as well as a girl on the basketball team who was shot but is now recovering. When asked about how she felt when she heard the news of the shooting, Rampersad said, “I was in shock because I would never think something like that would have happened there.”

Around 70 students from Berry arrived at 7:30 p.m. to participate in the vigil and created a community that showed support for one another in a time of loss. Berry’s Chaplain, Dr. John Huggins, began the service with a prayer and said a few words about loss and tragedy. He thanked the students for gathering and emphasized the need for community in times of mourning.

Assistant Chaplain Erin Moniz then read Psalm 24 out loud as the students sat by the waterfall. After she was finished, Moniz lit candles while the names of those who had lost their lives as a result of the shooting were read aloud. Sophomore Sarah Enger sang two worship songs for the group as they comforted one another.

Huggins closed the service by giving a benediction to those present by saying, “May the Lord bless you and keep you. May He make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up His countenance unto you and give you His peace.” These words are quoted from the Bible in the book of Numbers chapter six, verses 24 through 26.

Huggins instructed each who had a candle to keep it as a reminder of comfort and of courage for the days to come.

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