RBC students organize day of prayer in wake of school violence

By Ken Downey/Correspondent

TAKING SAFE STEPS • Members of the Red Bank Catholic High School Dance Company perform during the school’s Day of Prayer and Reflection held March 20 to raise awareness for school safety. Kyle Plumstead photo

Less than a week after the “National School Walkout” day campaign, students in Red Bank Catholic High School put their best feet forward in an effort to raise awareness for school safety. The student body came together March 20 in the school’s gymnasium for a schoolwide Day of Prayer and Reflection in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 dead. Led entirely by students, the day featured a prayer service, video presentations, performances by the school’s Dance Company and speakers from the school and community. “This was my proudest day … to be called a Casey,” senior Baylor Rodman said. “I am so thankful to the [school] administration and campus ministry and everybody who was involved. We felt that everything that happened inParkland needed to be talked about.”

Tens of thousands of students across the nation – including schools in the Diocese – took part in the “National School Walkout” March 14 in response to the Parkland shooting. Feeling called to action as well, senior Austin Nappi had the idea to hold a prayer service.

“Students are leading this entire charge throughout the entire country, and I think it’s important for us to say this is what we do here at Red Bank Catholic,” Nappi said. “Students are taking the pages the [presidential] administration is giving us, and they are writing their own story. That is what we did today, and I am really proud of everyone.”

The prayer service lasted an hour and concluded with 17 students standing in a circle in the center of the gym. Each student lit a candle for a Parkland shooting victim. One by one, the students said a victim’s name, and a Hail Mary was recited for each. A moment of silence followed the prayers.

“Looking at these candles makes me think about each individual family, and I know that every student will go home and think about everything that was said about … how important a community is,” Rodman said.

The event not only informed students of school safety, it also gave back to the victims’ families through the power of prayer.

“This is where the grace of God does come in,” Nappi said, reflecting on how God guided him to the right people to help organize the day’s service. “With help from everyone, we were able to come together and create this amazing event. It was so powerful.”

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