‘We need to be united’: Schools wear blue in honor of Va. Beach shooting victims

Students, staff wear blue to show support

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - The color blue was seen all across the Commonwealth Monday in honor of the 12 men and women killed in Virginia Beach Friday.

Virginia Beach Schools Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence encouraged school systems to sport shades of blue as the city deals with the tragedy.

It’s a request Henrico County Schools Superintendent Amy Cashwell, a Virginia Beach native, jumped on.

“I stand with Dr. Spence in asking all of the staff, students and families of Henrico County Public Schools to wear blue on Monday to show our love and support for Virginia Beach,” Cashwell wrote Sunday night.

At Henrico High School many students feel these mass shootings are becoming the new normal.

"This keeps happening in our country,” said Junior Lily Manyara. “It's a repeated cycle and it's been happening more often lately.

It’s something administrators and teachers don’t want students burdened by, even though they train for it on a constant basis.

"You get really upset that you're having to do that… it just scares me,” said teacher Sara-Alyse Nelson. “I wouldn't want my kids to be in a situation where they're in danger."

While the mass shooting in Virginia Beach didn't happen at a school, it still hits home for many of the students and staff in Henrico.

"It could have been me or my mom or dad, or whatever family member or close friend,” said Junior Talford Hayden. “It's just sad that a life had to be taken.”

"Even the conversations by the water cooler or the mail room; one teacher told me she was on her way down there for a swim meet for her daughter and they texted her saying they were on lockdown in the facility," said Henrico High School Principal Karin Castillo-Rose.

Sunday Spence, a former Deep Run High School Principal, urged school systems across the state to wear blue Monday in memory of the 12 men and women killed Friday.

Having spent 20 years in Virginia Beach as a teacher and administrator, Cashwell urged her students to consider participating.

"My heart just swelled... for half to maybe 60% of them be wearing blue today just shows you the impact of social media, but also that so many of them were willing to participate this way was really amazing," Castillo-Rose said.

"It's a way to stand out; show that we have unity and we're all one,” said Junior Khushi Gurjar. “That we understand this was not okay. I just felt that it was the step towards the right move."

“It’s inspiring,” said counselor Nydia Hernandez. “We all come from different backgrounds but we can all agree on this one thing – unite and stand together.”

However, these students said action needs to follow, including a focus on mental health.

Nelson mentioned how the shooting in Virginia Beach happened on the last day of Mental Health Awareness month.

"We have to end the stigma and make sure people know that it's okay to say I need help," said counselor Ellen Terry.

“They were just having a regular day at work and then boom, they weren’t going home from work that night," Hayden added. “It’s just sad.”

“I think everyone needs to stand together and we still can,” Gurjar said. “There's still time. We can stop it from ever happening again and that's the point. We need to be united."

Counselors said their doors are open for any students affected by this shooting.

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