NORMAN — More than 50 people gathered at McKinley Elementary School in Norman on Monday night carrying candles and walking silently through the cold night to remember the victims at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Members of the Oklahoma Educational Studies Association put together the candlelight vigil, “A Solemn Walk to Honor Sandy Hook Elementary School,” in an effort to deal with the tragedy and remember the lives that were lost Friday.
“It affects us all,” OU student Andrew Rickles said. “It’s still real and relevant here.”
Rickles attended the candlelight vigil with Kristen Perez, a teacher’s assistant at Lincoln Elementary School in Norman. Perez said this is a situation everyone can relate to and it is difficult to imagine the position people from Newtown, Conn., are in.
Christi Fransen, a retired teacher, taught in the Norman public school system for 33 years attended the vigil as well.
“I admire Norman teachers and teachers across the nation for going back to work today,” Fransen said.
She said when events such as this occur, it’s scary to return to work. Fransen remembered when the Murrah Federal Building was bombed, parents were peering in through the windows just to see their children and make sure they were safe.
“Mass tragedy is something that resonates with the people here in Oklahoma quite a bit,” OESA member John Dell said regarding the Murrah bombing.
Fransen said she strongly hopes the Sandy Hook tragedy will change the culture of Americans to support their teachers rather than dragging them down.
“They need to be built up,” she said. “They pour in so many hours and do so much.”
Fransen also said that needs in mental health are not being met. While there is no clear cut answer, she said society needs to meet the needs of the individuals more and not focus so much on meeting the needs of standardized tests.
Traveling from McKinley Elementary School, walking along Brooks Street, the silent group ended the vigil in front of the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education at Collings Hall. People throughout the group read off the names of victims who lost their lives at Sandy Hook on Friday, saying “rest in peace” before each victim’s name.
The victims included: Charlotte Bacon, 6; Daniel Barden, 7; Rachel D’Avino, 29; Olivia Engel, 6; Josephine Gay, 6; Dawn Hoschsprung, 47; Dylan Hockley, 6; Madeleine Hsu, 6; Cathrine Hubbard, 6; Chase Kowalski, 7; Nancy Lanza, 52; Jesse Lewis, 6; Ana Marquez-Greene, 6; James Mattoili, 6; Grace Audrey McDonnell, 7; Anne Marie Murphy, 52; Emilie Parker, 6; Jack Pinto, 6; Noah Ponzer, 6; Caroline Previdi, 6; Jessica Rekos, 6; Avielle Richman, 6; Lauren Gabrielle Rousseau, 30; Mary Sherlach, 56; Victoria Soto, 27; Benjamin Wheeler, 6; and Allison N. Wyatt, 6.