Lighting up Oxford High School with love

* Wildcat Remembrance starts Monday

By Don Rush
OXFORD — Next week will be a week of many emotions in Oxford as the community reflects back on the tragic loss of life on Nov. 30, 2021.

A mass shooting at Oxford High School took the lives of four beloved students, Tate Myre, Hana St. Juliana, Justin Schilling and Madisyn Baldwin. Six other students and a teacher were wounded by gunfire and in some way the entire community was hurt.

To help the grieving and healing process, next week will be a week of remembrance culminating with Wildcat Remembrance Day on Nov. 30

When students and staff return to school next Monday they will be greeted with special lights – Christmas lights were put up in every hallway.

“This goes along with the community theme of lighting up Oxford with luminaries which will be lit on November 30. We are lighting up Oxford High School with love,” said Oxford Schools Recovery Coordinator Laura Azoni. “We wanted to do something extra glowing for the whole week here at the high school. We’ve talked to the kids to let them know we are not celebrating, this is not a celebration. It’s just a way to be together and prioritizing love as we remember the students we lost during last November for Remembrance Week. While Tate, Hana, Justin and Madisyn were all different people, they all loved Christmas. It was something they had in common. We ran it by the four families of those we lost and the families of those who were injured and they were very positive with what we planned.”

Planning was done by the Remembrance Day committee comprised of teachers and students.
This past Monday, from 6 to 10 p.m., students and staff listened to holiday music and strung holiday lights.

Last week she said, “We’re going to bring step stools and ladders and we’ll spend the night stringing up lights inside the entire high school. The goal is to have everything ready by the time students return from Thanksgiving Break on Nov. 28. That whole week we will be together with the lights on.”

The school received donations of lights and extension cords from local businesses, other high schools and individuals from across the state.

Azoni said she hopes lighting up the school will help in healing and to “radiate and shine.”

She said they will have extra therapy dogs in the school next week, too. Normally there are four therapy dogs roaming the halls and classrooms of Oxford High School.

With the help of the 4 Pawz Strong organization, there will be seven extra dogs on Nov. 29 and on Dec. 1. The 4 Pawz Strong organization trains therapy dogs and the dogs currently in OHS, Al, Bean, Oscar and Santo.

November 30 is Wildcat Remembrance Day and schools will be closed.

“We are lighting up Oxford with love. We wanted to do something that was beautiful and honoring but something just a little bit simple, to create a space for calm grieving. It’s just honoring with love,” Azoni said.

Azoni coordinates the crisis response for Oxford Community Schools, works with the mental health team to support recovery, coordinates with community partners including All for Oxford Resiliency Center.
Next week, the All For Oxford Resiliency Center is handing out luminaries for the community to light up at 7 p.m. on Nov. 30. They are also planning to serve meals for the community on Monday through Wednesday and again on Dec. 1. The center is located at 1370 S. Lapeer Road, Oxford. For more information call 248-653-5511.

Oxford Schools Superintendent Ken Weaver reminded the community in a statement that Nov. 30, Wildcat Remembrance Day will be a day “to heal, reflect, mourn, and most of all to love.”
On Wildcat Remembrance Day at 12:51 p.m., Weaver asked the community “wherever you and your family are at this time, we invite our school community to share a moment of silence together.”

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Oxford United Methodist Church, 21 E. Burdick St., will have an open house for OHS students and families from 1-4 p.m. on Nov. 30. There will be “games, snacks and fellowship.” All are welcome

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