On March 15, many schools in Washoe County opted to voice their concerns with a school walk-out to protest current gun legislation. Manogue students remained on campus to observe 17 minutes of silence and reflection, led by Campus Minister, Mr. Galli, via Miner TV. This event honored the 17 Florida victims, in addition to all previous victims of school violence. A natural outcry to this type of violence raises the question, How can we stop it? What might be some feasible and constructive steps we could all undertake to make a positive change? In response, Galli posed this relevant comment, “You want to stop violence? The first is bothering, caring, giving a damn about other people.” During our daily insular routines, we become so wrapped up in our own triumph’s, our own needs and our own frustrations, we further perpetuate the “It’s all about me” syndrome.
The Manogue community wanted to focus on a discussion about what we can do as a school community to help prevent these kinds of tragedies from happening again. In a February 19 Facebook post, David Blair, a retired Texas middle and high school teacher, wrote an open letter to all students about making a difference in these violent times. In the following excerpt, he states, “Don’t trust that walking out of school will bring an answer. Gun control or more laws is not and will not, be the answer. You are the answer. Your greeting, your smile, your gentle human touch is the only thing that can change the world….” Blair stresses that we need to become involved with our fellow human beings and make the effort to personally interact with those who are not actively part of our lives. By coming out of our isolationist comfort zones and by reaching out and genuinely connecting with someone new, we break down barriers and make our world inclusive for all. He stresses that it actually takes very little effort. “Look past yourself and look past your phone and look into the eyes of [another] student who no one else sees.” It is a small but powerful step.
Channeling this sentiment, Mrs. Bonnie Hansen, our school secretary, decided to “Step Up” to this challenge by organizing a monthly event that fosters conversation and community. To this end, on March 15, Ms. Hansen randomly handed out lunch invitations to 17 students and staff members. She explains that she chose to bring people together with food because, “There’s no better way to get to know people and show them you care than by sharing a meal.” These lucky lunchers were asked to sit next to people they did not already know and simply share food and conversation. Not a difficult proposition in exchange for a delicious free meal! Those who attended said that they were surprised and delighted, and added that it was an easy way to step out their routines and meet new people. We are so grateful to Ms. Hansen for her generosity and timely idea, reinforcing one of Mr. Galli’s sentiments that he shared on March 15, “You cannot destroy ideas. Ideas are bulletproof. And the idea that love can shape the world, that the strength of our hearts can overcome evil, that is an idea that I hope you all give into.”