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An Episcopal, co-educational 100% boarding school in Middletown, Delaware for grades 9 – 12

A St. Andrew's That Will Not Let Them Go in Vain
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Zachary Macalintal ’24

On January 30, I attended the vigil for Tyre Nichols and the mass shooting victims in California along with many other members of our community. It started with a lighting of candles, followed by an introduction by Dr. Fisher and Rev. Preysner. They shared a few words on how in times like these it is both important and powerful to hold space and support each other within our community. Rev. Preysner read an excerpt from the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church Michael Curry. He stated,

While we grieve, we cannot give in or give up. Just throwing up our hands in despair is not an option lest we leave a brother, a sister, a sibling on the side of the road again. No, let more Good Samaritans arise so that Tyre Nichols' death will not be in vain.

All members in attendance entered into a state of prayer, meditation, and silence as the chapel’s open doors welcomed in the sounds from the Dining Hall. The world continued just as it did any other Monday night at St. Andrew’s. In my meditation, feelings of frustration and hopelessness to questions of how can I do something about this? arose. The violence Tyre Nichols suffered was not, and will never be, an isolated incident in the story of America. The people who were welcoming and celebrating the Lunar New Year were murdered at the hands of a person armed with a gun. The moments channeled my fear of injustice and overwhelming feelings of helplessness. I held back on verbally sharing these feelings, however, to give space and silence to those who came to sit in thought. We sat in silence, and the weight was shared amongst us.

People began to leave, one by one. You could hear the steps as they walked up the chapel’s stairs back into the St. Andrew’s community. How do people continue with their lives? I started to wonder. My mind, as I imagine many others’ minds, could not help but feel the weight of Tyre Nichols’ family and community, the victims in California’s families and communities. The privilege of living at a place like St. Andrew’s, the group noted, was that we will not have to worry about walking to and from dorm at night, that we can have moments to pause and hold space.

I see the St. Andrew’s community thrive all the time. Whenever I walk into the Dining Hall I hear the lively conversations and laughter. During family-style meals, when someone drops a tray, there will always be a person leaping to the opportunity to bring them napkins to clean up and shielding them from embarrassment. To me, our St. Andrew’s community has mastered and continues to strive to be the “good samaritans” Bishop Michael Curry refers to in his message after the death of Tyre Nichols.

“Let Good Samaritans arise so that Tyre Nichols’ death will not be in vain.” We, the saints of St. Andrew’s School, know that we are Good Samaritans, willing to be the hype buddy, the shoulder to cry on, the person willing to embrace you when you need it. The second and arguably the most important part of Bishop Michael Curry’s message is rising to the occasion. We know that we have both the ability and responsibility to help those around us, but will we answer the call? Will we make sure that the death of Tyre Nichols and the massacre of the victims in California were not in vain? 

Tonight our chapel speaker, Amanda Kinsey, talked about her allyship with the Jewish community to fight antisemitism as it exists in our world. The chapel included a poem called “First They Came” by Martin Niemöller, which ends with the line, “Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.” Kinsey broke down her interpretation of the message in the context of both antisemitism as well as allyship with any community. We excuse ourselves from the injustices in the world because we feel as if that injustice is not targeted toward us, thus we do nothing. Bishop Michael Curry, Niemöller, and Kinsey all seem to be advocating for the same message: we, as a community and as individuals, all have the obligation to fight injustice wherever it exists.

I believe in a St. Andrew’s that knows its obligation to the national and global community. St. Andrew’s is a place where we forge students to be people and leaders. I believe that we need to be informed in order to demonstrate the traits we have that cannot be taught. We need to channel traits like kindness, humility, and a craving to do justice, to put more good in the world.

Start. The work that needs to be done, as I am sure most of you are aware, starts with being informed. You could, in fact, start by reading this article (and click on the links at the bottom), or this article. What we choose to do with this information is the vital part. To some, it means attending a vigil to show solidarity and support for all the members of our community who are affected by these events and the communities outside of our own community that are affected by these events. To others, this may look like writing letters to local representatives to pass important legislation targeting gun safety or voting for new officials when our current ones fail to meet our expectations of them. Activism starts with staying informed.

Taking action is the next step. Most may wonder, What can I do to start? When we find ourselves like we have no power, we must remind ourselves of the power of democracy. In addition to the articles, here and here are resources to enter your state or zip code to find your senator or congressman, respectively. Writing to these legislators will pressure them to pass legislation that works to end police brutality against Black citizens and the violence against the AAPI community, and install safer gun laws so no one falls victim to gun violence. Since most of us in the community are currently ineligible to vote, it is important to be aware that high school students will soon rise to the responsibility of voting and it is extremely important for politicians to listen to our voices.

Thank you to those who took the time to read this. My hope is that this message will be contagious, and let us embody it as a community! Keep yourself informed, keep others informed, and take action!

—Zachary Macalintal and the Social Justice Club

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