It was, quite possibly, the longest 49 seconds the students of Coral Springs Charter School ever experienced.
Each second was for one of the 49 victims of the attack that took place at Pulse nightclub in Orlando on Sunday – a moment of silence held during a candlelight vigil at the school tonight. It was a vigil that began with a rainbow forming off in the distance.
“It’s a sign,” said Sara Parks, student government association advisor.
Joining the students were faculty, parents, members of the community and the Coral Springs Police Department.
Valedictorian Kasia Wiech recounted the story of her frantic efforts to make sure her friend, who was visiting Orlando during the attack, was unharmed. “But that’s not the case for 49 others,” said an emotional Wiech.
Wiech, and Student Government Association President Gabi Pineros read the names of the victims and talked about the origin and meaning behind the Pride Flag. Pineros said no one should be targeted because of their sexual orientation or any other reason.
“When is enough, enough?” she asked.
Earlier in the day, a blood drive was held. During the vigil, students sold food, water plants and pride wristbands to raise money for the victims.
Theresa Brier, a representative for Congressman Ted Deutch, read a statement on his behalf. Deutch called on Americans to unite against hate and renew efforts to make communities places of love and safety. “Let’s remember that they were taken from us in a place that served as a refuge to them . . . My hope and prayer is that this tragedy will not drive a wedge through our community. The loved ones of those lost remember them as being kind, passionate, and joyful about life. Let’s honor them by following their example.”
Despite lightning and threatening rain clouds, the crowd that gathered tonight stayed until the end. Some stayed longer, waiting until their candles had burned all the way down to the foil candle holders.
“I hope we send a message to everyone that love will conquer hate,” Parks said.
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