Getting Hearts to the Right Place

Getting Hearts to the Right Place
Posted on 02/23/2018
Getting Hearts to the Right Place

A boxful of Nacogdoches condolences are bound for Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.

The school in Parkland, Fla., was the scene Feb. 14 of another tragic mass shooting. Seventeen students and faculty died and dozens more were wounded by a single gunman armed with an AR-15 assault rifle.

Now, students across the nation are sending to Parkland their heart-shaped wishes of love and support.

The plan, says Nacogdoches High School art teachers Maranda Clay and Ruby Woodard, is to cover the hallways of the school in Florida with brightly colored and messages of love and compassion.

“And it’s gone national, now,” Clay said.

When Woodard heard about the project from a friend who teaches art at Lufkin High School, there were already several pieces of art leftover from projects set around Valentine’s Day, the same day the shooting occurred. That fits neatly with the theme of “hearts,” she said.

“We had a surplus of art,” Woodard said.

Many of the drawings and paintings from NHS contain striking messages of compassion and empathy for their fellow students in Florida. “We can’t read more than a few of them without crying,” Woodard said.

Plans call for messages to be shipped to the Florida high school and placed along the walls inside once students return to the campus, which Florida officials have said would occur sometime in the coming days (although the building where the shootings took place would not reopen).

Clay and Woodard are sending many of the messages from NHS students in a large envelope. Other works, hearts designed by students that are larger, will likely be packed into a box and shipped to the school.

“When they showed this to me, I was in awe,” said NHS principal Dr. Michael O’Guin. “It was a way to do something, anything, to let those students and teachers in Florida know that we are thinking of them.”

Reaching out to the stricken school has struck a chord with NHS students, Woodard said. Even some students that come to the art classroom for Dragons Den wanted to include messages.

“So it’s not just art students,” Woodard said.

Messages can also be passed along on social media, the teachers said, by including #ParklandHearts.

In Clay’s classes, the project has sparked additional conversations about school shootings, causing students to wonder, “Can this happen here?”

“I think it’s been cathartic in a way,” Woodard said.