Decidedly Academic. Distinctively Christian.
Today, all across the country, thousands of high school students walked out of classes at 10:00 AM sharp – time zone by time zone – for precisely 17 minutes. One minute for each of the seventeen people who lost their lives during the school shooting at Parkland High School in Florida.
The movement spread nationwide with a resounding “Never Again” theme as young people searched for ways to honor those who were killed while calling upon leaders and lawmakers to help stop the violence. The protests carried different tones and emphases with some protesting for stricter gun laws, others advocating for mental health resources. However, there was an overwhelming solidarity to honor the victims and their families along with a national plea to make our schools a safer place for kids.
At Foothill Christian School we are not exempt from the larger social issues that affect our youth today. Some of our 8th graders wanted to walk out in support of this cause. Others had no clue it was happening. At Foothill, we strive to help students understand youth culture along with current trends and challenges they might encounter.
The Florida school shooting and subsequent youth movement provided us another teachable moment. So, we met with our 8th graders on the front plaza to discuss some of the issues from a biblical worldview. We didn’t get political about gun control vs. 2nd amendment rights. We made it about prayer, empathy and developing a deeper understanding of issues regarding good vs. evil. We listened to the students. We let them briefly express their opinions and ask their questions. We reminded them that we live in a fallen, sinful world where bad things happen, while assuring them that “…God has not called us to a spirit of fear, but of love, power and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
We divided into small groups and prayed for the victims’ families and friends. We also prayed for school leaders across the country, government officials and legislators in their efforts to find solutions. Before we prayed, we rang a bell…seventeen times…one for each of the victims. The small ring of the bell felt much weightier than its tone. It added a poignant emphasis to our reflections and prayers.
Tonight, as you watch the news and hear reports about today’s events, we encourage you to talk with your child and help them process. Asking them about our gathering today would be a good place to start that conversation.
In times like these, we keenly feel our responsibility to partner with parents in helping children develop a distinctively Christian compass to navigate youth culture and societal trends.