Days after 17 people lost their lives in a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Valley Catholic junior Abby Moss knew she wanted to do something to honor the victims. “Oftentimes as teens, we feel helpless because we can’t vote and don’t have a voice. Then I heard that other schools were planning vigils.”

After consulting with Valley Catholic High School Principal Doug Ierardi, Moss moved forward with plans for a prayer service to honor the victims. The student-led service took place on March 14, one month after the Parkland shootings.

As reflective music echoed across the Valley Catholic Athletic Field, students gathered in silence. Abby Moss was joined by 16 student volunteers who formed a heart at the center of the field. Each carried a photo of one of the victims.

The students stood silently for 17 minutes as the name of each person who lost their life at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was read aloud with information about their life.

“I wanted to take time to honor the victims,” Moss said. “Too often, they are faces on the news and it’s important to learn more about them as people.” She added, “I did a lot of research about each individual and tried to choose music that was personal to them. As an example, for a father who died, I chose a song where a girl sings to her dad.”

“I was quite moved by how many people decided to participate and that, on a day that was so political for some other schools, people were able to set their personal beliefs aside and come together to truly commemorate the lives that were lost,” Moss said.

In the prayer assembly that followed in the Valiants Gym, Moss focused on “what we can do as a school to combat violence and the importance of love and kindness. That’s something we can start with right here.”

Speaking to the students assembled in the gym, Principal Doug Ierardi noted: “We are called to be people of faith, hope, love….I hope we can continue to reaffirm the things that we can do every day, to build a strong, faithful community that is supportive. To be kind. To be people of faith, hope, and love. To be the ones to cast off the darkness, and to live in the light, because schools should be safe places.”

The Valley Catholic memorial prayer service took place as students and staff across the United States joined together to honor the victims of the Parkland school shooting.

Additional photos from the memorial prayer service may be found on our campus Flickr site.