Newtown Middle School Assistant Principal Anthony Salvatore brought a memorial plaque with him to the Board of Education’s meeting on Tuesday, February 6.
“It is a privilege to be here this evening,” said Dr Salvatore before the board, “to present to the Newtown Board of Education and the Newtown community this gift from our brothers and sisters in Red Lake High School in Red Lake, Minnesota. I hope I can convey to you the spirit of love which was brought to Newtown on December 20, 2012.”
On that day a delegation of survivors, family members, and their supporters from the Red Lake Reservation arrived in Newtown after traveling cross-country to support and console the community following the events of 12/14. The group included nine Ojibwa representatives, Dr Salvatore said.
“This journey completed a special mission for four graduates of Red Lake High School who survived their own shooting tragedy on March 21, 2005,” said Dr Salvatore. “At the time it was the deadliest school shooting since Columbine in 1999. Their mission was to travel to Newtown, Connecticut, carrying forward the caring and kindness the Red Lake Ojibwa community received when it faced its own tragic loss, of five students, one teacher, and a security guard, in a high school of approximately 300 students.”
Students from Columbine High School visited the Ojibwa community following the 2005 shooting, to show support, and that visit impacted the Red Lake community.
“These students know the heartbreak and loss that Newtown is going through,” Dr Salvatore said.
During the delegation’s visit, Dr Salvatore accepted a memorial plaque from the Red Lake visitors, which had been given to them from members of the Columbine community. Dr Salvatore said he also promised to present the plaque to a future community, should such a tragedy happen elsewhere.
“Of course, I hope this is a commitment that no one will have to fulfill,” said Dr Salvatore. “Their hope for us, and for all the people on this Earth, is that there will be no more tragedies, that peace will replace violence, that love will replace hate, that acceptance will replace tolerance, that cooperation will replace competition, that empathy will replace prejudice.”
A banner of Newtown’s Core Character Attributes, signed by NMS students, was presented to the delegation during its stay, and the Red Lake delegation, along with the memorial plaque of a framed dream catcher, also gave the Newtown community a signed tribal flag.
“They left being inspired how Newtown has laid out a list of Core Character Attributes that can literally change the world through our choices,” said Dr Salvatore.
Part of the inscription on the memorial plaque, as read by Dr Salvatore, states, “This healing dream catcher came to Jefferson County, Colorado, after the Columbine tragedy. In the spirit of healing, we pass it to Red Lake Nation Indian Education Program. May it never travel again.”
Dr Salvatore said he promised the Red Lake delegates the plaque would be displayed where it can be seen by the Newtown community, “and that this would be its last stop.”