In the aftermath of the horrific shooting at Oxford High School, we’ve seen an unprecedented outpouring of support for the victims and their families. Indeed, the entire community of Oxford has been enveloped in love and affirmation at a level I’ve never witnessed before.
It is truly staggering how quickly a horrific display of inhumanity has been met head-on with an overwhelming demonstration of love and compassion.
In an environment awash in fear and anguish, it is easy to focus on and, ultimately, be overcome by these emotions. It takes a special kind of person and, consequently, a special kind of community to instead focus on service and solace.
It is comforting to know that, in the days since four students lost their lives in an unthinkable tragedy, anyone who is seeking hope and comfort can find it. This should restore your faith in humanity, as it has mine.
I think of Jen Taylor, a member of our staff at Lapeer High School, and her husband Scott. They raised nearly $100,000 for the victims of this tragedy in just four days through their downtown Oxford pizzeria. Thanks to the incredible rush of support from people from all walks of life — people who may not have known anyone impacted by the violence — they made an enormous difference in the lives of so many people overcome by grief.
There are stories like this one popping up all the time, as people like Jen and Scott choose to respond to evil with good.
There are stories of print shops selling t-shirts and sending all the proceeds to grieving families; there are photographers offering free senior pictures to Oxford High School students; there are artists performing concerts to raise funds; there are crowd-funding campaigns that have raised over $500,000 for the families of victims.
We’ve seen an incredible response from our students and community as well, from a vigil held in downtown Lapeer to offer support to our neighbors, to the numerous acts of kindness shown by our students to the students of Oxford High School.
As long as we continue to focus on the good in humanity, perhaps this can be the start of something profound in this community. Maybe looking after one another can become a daily practice, in good times and bad. Maybe we can sustain this focus until it becomes more than just a response to evil, but something that ultimately could prevent a tragedy like this from ever happening again.
And so, it truly starts with us.
Schools are the beating heart of the community. I’ve said this many times, but it bears repeating: the future of our community depends on the success of our schools.
They are one and the same.
On Tuesday, I was among the thousands in attendance at 16-year-old Tate Myre’s funeral. I was struck by the fact that most of the people who spoke to honor his memory were from his school. This should serve as a reminder to everyone in our community that our schools play a vital role in the development of young people.
Just as the Oxford community played a vital role in raising up a young man who would choose to run toward danger to keep others safe, so it is our responsibility to ensure we are providing our students with the resources they need to look after each other. That our students and staff are safe and supported in our schools is my most important job.
I hope that one day we will all be able to look back at this tragedy and be reminded not of the ugliness of evil, but of the life-changing power of good.