A group of students at Carroll County High School are tired of the increasing number of school shootings across the nation and have decided to stand up against the violence and to stand with those affected in Parkland, Florida.
Led by the efforts of seniors Grace Myers and Amber Marshall, the National Honor Society at Carroll County High School will host a talent show on March 13 at 6:30 p.m. with all proceeds going to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, where a former student at the school killed 17 people in a mass shooting on Feb. 14. The talent show will also include presentations from law enforcement officers and a psychologist about gun safety and mental health issues.
Myers said Marshall had talked about doing a talent show for a cause last semester, but couldn’t figure out what cause to support. After the school shooting in Florida, Myers came up with the idea of a talent show with proceeds going to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. The idea quickly took off as other members of the school’s National Honor Society were eager to join the effort.
Ironically, after the March 13 talent show had already been coordinated, CCHS had its own scare on Wednesday, Feb. 28 when a local elementary school student made a 9-1-1 call claiming a shooting had taken place at Carroll County High School. The call was later determined to be a hoax, but still served as a stark reminder of what every community unfortunately now must deal with head-on.
“That was really scary and that was part of the reason we wanted to help Parkland, Florida so bad because as high school students going to school every day we have to wonder if we’re next,” Myers said. “It could happen to us at any point and time. There were so many lives lost in Parkland, Florida and we are done watching our peers die.”
Marshall said the Florida shooting and even the local prank both were “huge eye openers,” especially in a rural area like Carroll County where guns are so prevalent.
“Guns are everywhere here,” Myers added. “And this is just kind of our way of saying we support (Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School) and we are standing with them.”
Each student is required to do a service project in the National Honor Society and Marshall said this serves as their self-initiated student service project. As President of the society, Myers said it was easy for her to get the high school’s entire National Honor Society chapter involved, which includes between 80 and 90 members. Some members will be helping with a bake sale in which funds will be sent to Parkland, Florida, while others will be taking donations at the door for the talent show. Cost to attend is by donation ($1 and up). All items for the bake sale will be by donations and honor society members will run the show, so the event will not cost the club anything, allowing it to maximize the donations to send to Florida.
Myers and Marshall are also selling ribbons for $1 dollar to show support for Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Marshall and her mother made the ribbons, which feature red (the Florida school’s main color), orange (for gun safety) and green (for mental health).
“It is also a way to get people involved because people want to know why we are wearing the ribbons,” Myers said. “People want to be involved and they want to get the ribbon. A lot of people are standing up with us for this and banding together with us.”
At the beginning of the talent show, CCHS Student Resource Officer Kevin Kemp and former Hillsville Police Chief Greg Bolen will give a presentation on gun safety. Plans are also to hopefully have a psychologist speak about mental health.
“We thought this would have more of an impact with officer Kemp and Bolen and also hit all the issues surrounding the school shooting,” Myers said.
“It’s not just a talent show, it’s also a presentation about safety and awareness,” Marshall added.
Myers said the talent show will probably last about two hours and will also include a tribute to victims of all schools shootings since Columbine. They expect many students to sing and dance in the show, with the possibility of some teachers joining in as well.
“We haven’t had that many projects that we have done that are this big and we have a lot of involvement with this already,” Marshall said. “We have people e-mailing and messaging us wanting to know what they can do to help us out. Even people that don’t go to school here have said they want to come and help donate whenever they come. We want them to not only have a fun experience by coming to the talent show but also to go away with knowledge of safety and also knowledge of mental health issues as well.”
In a way, Myers said it feels like Carroll County High School is paying it back to Parkland, Florida after the school supported Southwest Virginia following a similar tragedy in 2007.
“Whenever the Virginia Tech shooting happened, Marjory Stoneman sent a book of letters in support to Virginia Tech so it is just kind of full circle,” Myers said. “They helped our community out and now we are helping theirs.”
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN