MEXICO – As issues divide, the Mexico Academy and Central School District unites.
That message was spread loud and clear during a Unity Assembly at Mexico High School where students and district staff members came together to both honor lives lost and reaffirm their commitment to kindness.
On the heels of the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Mexico High School student council members worked with administrators to bring the school district together in a strong show of support.
“Sometimes unity is the strongest thing we have against fear,” said Josh Washer, a junior and student council representative.
As schools nationwide organized walkout efforts on March 14, Mexico High School utilized its second-block class time to have students and teachers write a positive message on a thin strip of colored paper, which were then linked as a small chain in each classroom.
Together, classes then marched down to the gymnasium where class chains were linked together to create a lengthy, visible reminder of the love offered at the high school.
Students in grades nine through 12, along school staff members, filled the bleachers and fell silent as Principal Ryan Lanigan commended everyone for coming together as one school, one community.
He beamed with pride as he talked about how the students’ acceptance of Rachel’s Challenge in the fall to spread kindness to others had come full circle at the Unity Assembly.
He was joined by MACS Superintendent Sean Bruno, who was delighted with the wonderful, unique culture at Mexico High School.
Bruno recounted his time in high school, and said that while he had friends, he wished he would have offered inclusivity to even more of his peers.
Oswego County Legislator Bradley Trudell, R- Mexico, told the high school students that they can do it now and it’s simple: be kind. As someone who helps make laws for the county, he said, one law he can’t create is to tell others how to treat one another.
“Every single person in this room is a person of influence,” he said. “We’re all struggling with something; we’re all climbing that mountain. It is that simple to just look at someone and say, ‘Hi, how are you doing today?’ or give them a wave.”
While kindness is simple, it’s not always easy, Trudell said. That’s when students can rise above and eventually work they put it will be returned to them.
Members of the chorus then sang the school’s alma mater.
As the chorus performed Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror,” which has inspired people to look at themselves and make a change, 17 students slowly walked to the center of the gymnasium to place a white carnation on a large, pink paper heart.
Surrounded by the colorful chain of kindness, the flowers served as a moment of remembrance for each of the 17 victims at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Ryan then led the crowd in a moment of silence for those people, and all victims, who have tragically lost their lives.
He later said he was humbled and impressed to be the principal of such a thoughtful, mature group of students for how they decided to handle the sensitive topic.
The kindness chain has been placed around the main staircase at the high school, as a means for students to reflect back on such an important day of the 2017-18 school year.
Meanwhile, at Mexico Middle School, as a way to remember the victims of the Parkland, Florida, tragedy, students were encouraged to walk up to 14 students they didn’t know well and three adults, totaling 17 new connections.