Friday, March 9, 2012
In Honor of Chardon High School and the City of Chardon, Ohio
On Wednesday, the 7th of March, 2012, the students and faculty of The Ginn Academy gathered in front of the school on East 162nd Street in Cleveland to talk about the shootings that took place last week at Chardon High School, just thirty-five miles east of where we stood. We were there under the direction of Mrs. Valeria Flewelon, GA's Career and Technology teacher, who wanted to reach out, along with her Ginn family, to the people of Chardon as she watched the television interviews and felt the pain of the victims' families.
Both Mr. Ginn and Mr. Matt Chinchar, our college advisor, spoke with the boys about the terrifying events and the meaning that they could take from all of it. Mr. Chinchar, retired Glenville H.S. guidance counselor and assistant Glenville football coach, has been one of Mr. Ginn's close friends for many years. One of the young men that was killed last week used to live in his neighborhood and attended his church, but the family decided to move to Chardon hoping for a better life for their son.
Mr. Chinchar brings a different point of view to the table at Ginn because he is white and that was one of the topics that he broached with the boys. "Race relation issues are still very real, but here we are, an all-black school, having a ceremony to pay respect to a school and community that is mostly white," he told them. "We are making progress and you are part of it. Regardless of our color or creed, pain and tragedy touch us all." He continued, "This is an opportunity for us to reach out. If there is anything that we can do, no matter what our religious denominations, we can pray for the victims, the student body, and the community. We can pray for strength, for peace, and for a new beginning for the town because they are suffering."
Though differences between Chardon and inner-city Cleveland might seem to be great on the surface, Mr. Chinchar wanted to focus on similarities. "I wanted to remind them that we are all connected," he explains. "We're connected as high school students in the greater Cleveland area. We have the same hopes and dreams and we face similar challenges. Pain, adversity, and violence cross all races, creeds, and backgrounds."
Mr. Ginn implored the young men to appreciate the love in their lives while they can. "We take things for granted because they're not in our laps. Ginn Academy, don't take for granted the teachings and love that we have for you. We try to provide a safe haven, a safe place for our children," he said. "We can only imagine, but we really can't imagine what the families are going through. We send our children to school to be educated and safe, never realizing that they may not come home again."
Mr. Clifford Hayes, Principal of Ginn Academy, spoke to the boys about his appreciation and love for them and their act of kindness. "They are sincere in wanting to honor their peers in Chardon, and I just wanted to recognize that," he says.
At the end of the ceremony, Ginn Academy students lined up to tie their red ribbons along the fence that runs along the front of our school in a show of support for our neighbors to the east. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the city of Chardon and Chardon High School.