To Paris with love
Ranch View students to support French schoolchildren through letters
HIGHLANDS RANCH – Like many Americans, the students and staff at Ranch View Middle School were stunned when they heard about the events of November 13 in Paris.
“I heard about the terrorist attacks on the news and I wanted to do something to help them. A lot of people were suffering,” said Ranch View eighth-grader Shae Henley.
130 people died in multiple attacks, including mass shootings and suicide bombings, in the suburb of Saint-Denis.
“It was horrifying. It was awful and hard to believe,” said Ranch View teacher Erin Rohr. “When something like this happens, we think, ‘how can we help? Should we send money? Should we send goods?'”
Henley proposed that she and her fellow students write letters and create a banner of support, which would be sent to students in Paris.
“We just want to let French children and their schools know that everything will be alright and that the world is with them. Everyone is together in supporting them,” Henley said. “Most of my friends are all for the idea. They love it.”
Her teacher, Ms. Rohr, loved that the students were relating to the children in Paris and without hesitation agreed to support the project.
“It is especially powerful that a student initiated it,” Rohr said. “I know how passionate Shae is and I know how dedicated she is, so when she came up with the idea, it seemed like something that we could make happen.”
Henley and Rohr brought the idea to Principal Tanner Fitch who enthusiastically approved it.
“It is proof that if you can just stay out of the way and support students, they can really rise to the occasion in ways that adults don’t always think about,” Fitch said. “It is amazing to see the world through middle schoolers eyes like this and see how they want to respond.”
On Monday, November 23, Henley will lead the effort, encouraging students to write letters and sign the banner over the course of the day. Everything will then be packaged up and shipped to an International Baccalaureate (IB) school in Paris.
“I know that France is really far away, but Ranch View is an IB school and we often talk about how we are interconnected in the world,” Henley said.
While horrific, topical world events like the attacks spark conversation on how today’s world is shaped by historical events.
For instance, comparisons could be made to the terrorist attacks here on U.S. soil on September 11, 2001. Shae and her classmates weren’t even born when that occurred.
Fitch says that sometimes the realities of the world can be scary, but having conversations in the school-environment can empower students to lead, today and in the future.
“Our kids are our future. The more aware they are of what is going on and what they are walking into as adults, the better prepared they will be to go into the world and make a difference and help to combat this type of thing,” Fitch said.
On this Thanksgiving week, Henley says the events in Paris and elsewhere in the world help to bring focus to the many things we have to be thankful for.
“I know a lot of people in other countries are not as fortunate as we are, like all of the refugees coming to Europe from war-torn countries,” Henley said. “Most of the time we are protected, safe, and we have food, homes and education. It does make me feel very thankful.”