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Last week I felt—not for the first time—an overwhelming sense of how honored I am to work at Eastern Christian.

Our high school students and teachers used our chapel time to engage in a dialogue about school safety that was framed around our student-created Open Up Project. Thank you to Mrs. Aceino, Mr. Wright, Clara, Laine, and Steve for leading the introduction to the day and beautifully framing the conversation. They talked not only of walking out, but walking up to those who need help.

The Open Up Project is all about creating healthy conversations to help students process through difficult topics. Discussions in various classes covered many different themes, including mental health, social media, inclusion, political action, anxiety, hypocrisy, and many more. Students also suggested ideas for how to make EC a safer place for all students, and it was a rich time of productive conversation. Thank you to all of our wonderful teachers for leading those discussions and allowing students to be heard.

I also had the profound privilege of joining 80 students who walked out of school and gathered around our flagpole. To be candid, situations out of our control can make administrators feel uneasy, and students walking out of school definitely falls into that category. However, our mission at Eastern Christian is to empower students to act as Christ’s transforming agents in a global society. We want our students to engage culture, to respond in a godly manner to current events, and to bring God’s kingdom ever more clearly into our world.  

That is exactly what I witnessed.

Students read the names of the 17 victims in Parkland, Florida, and then they joined together in prayer. I heard students pray for the survivors of school violence, for the families of those who were lost, and for wisdom for our political leaders as they decide how best to proceed. They prayed that students at EC would not be isolated or excluded, that the students at our school would have Christ’s heart for those who are suffering, and that we could hear and honor the voices of our brothers and sisters in Christ, even when we may not agree with what they are saying. They prayed for reconciliation, for unity, for safety.

Around our nation, the conversation in the last month has been angry, often filled with vitriol and even contempt for those who think or believe differently. What I witnessed yesterday—both in our classrooms and outside—was the opposite of that. Students joined together in prayer and productive dialogue to effect positive change in our world, and it was a beautiful sight to behold. Thank you, EC, for being a place where this can happen.