The Memorial to Fallen Educators, located on Emporia State’s campus, was rededicated today as the first national monument in Kansas. Representatives from Parkland Florida and other schools where shootings took place attended to show their support and to call for #NoMore school shootings.
“Although we are adding ten more names (to the memorial), we still say ‘No more,’” said Kenneth Weaver, Dean of the teachers college and professor of psychology at ESU.
Many used the rededication ceremony to call for action.
“There should be no greater priority than making our students and our educators (safe),” said Jeff Longbine, state senator. “I urge lawmakers at the local, state and national level to make school safety a priority.”
Mark Schreiber, state representative, took the time to tell the story of Jim McGee, of Goddard, Kansas, who was killed in a school shooting.
“The names on these walls should inspire us,” Schreiber said. “(If they could still speak,) they would tell us to take a stand for what is right...Let’s not only remember these names, but let (these names) inspire us (to take action).
Both Schreiber and Longbine thanked Carol Strickland, director of the National Teachers Hall of Fame, as she headed up the memorial project. According to Debby Chandler of the National Education Association, they are fundraising for a third book to add to the memorial and already have two names for it.
Stephanie Hope, brought a dreamcatcher which was made by a Pottawatomie woman and presented to the survivors of Columbine in the 90’s. Since then it has traveled to nearly every major school shooting, before the students at Parkland decided to retire it here.
“The idea is that it will never travel again,” Hope said.
The dreamcatcher is meant to be a healing gift made of willow and will represent hope for a better future.
The rededication was also attended by representatives from the state and national government, ESU administrators and community members, mostly wearing yellow ribbons to show their support.
According to Weaver, Governor Jeff Colyer could not attend the event because he was attending funeral services for public servants.
“I cannot think of a better place to locate the memorial then next to the National Teachers Hall of Fame on Emporia State’s campus, which has been known as a teachers college for many years,” said Danny Giefer, mayor of Emporia.
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Flowers were placed on the memorial during the rededication by family and friends of fallen educators and by others there to honor them. The Memorial to Fallen Educators has been a five year vision and was recently made a national memorial.
The American Legion Post 5 Honor Guard raises the flag outside of the one room school house, beside the Memorial to Fallen Educators during the rededication event held today. The flag raising was followed by the National Anthem.
Ken Weaver, dean of the Teachers College and professor of psychology at Emporia State, called for “#NoMore,” a mantra present at the rededication that called for prioritizing student and educator safety. The memorial added ten more names today, adding to a total of 125.
Debby Chandler, of the National Education Association, lays a sunflower on the Memorial to Fallen Educators. The memorial was rededicated today as a national monument.
Anna Fusco, of the Florida Education Association, tries to hold back tears while talking about the three educators who died during the Parkland shooting last February. She told stories about Scott Beigel, a geography teacher, Aaron Feis, an assistant coach, and Chris Hixon, the athletic director, who all worked at Marjory Stoneman Douglas.
Allison Garrett, president of Emporia State, listens to tearful stories about the educators who died while trying to protect the students from Parkland, Florida during the February shooting. She sits next to the wreath that would later be dedicated to the memorial by the ESU Class of 2018.
Deborah Cornelison and Darryl Johnson, alumni of Emporia State in the class of 2013, comfort a family member of one of the deceased fallen educators before she placed a white rose on the memorial. Cornelison and Johnson read short biographies of each of the 10 people whose names were placed on the memorial today.
Deborah Cornelison, alumna of of Emporia State’s class of 2013, places a white rose at the base of the Memorial to Fallen Educators. Each white rose symbolizes one of the 10 new names that were added to the memorial for the rededication service.
Stephanie Hope presented a dreamcatcher to the National Memorial of Fallen Educators that has gone from school to school throughout the country after major shootings. The dreamcatcher will be retired her.
The rededication service ended with William McCollum playing the bagpipes. The Memorial to Fallen Educators is the only national memorial in Kansas.