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'It starts with us,' Okemos High School students hold walk-out to show support for Michigan State University

1 victim critically injured in the MSU mass shooting graduated from Okemos
Okemos High School student walk-out
Posted at 1:54 PM, Feb 16, 2023

OKEMOS, Mich. — Three minutes at 8:15 a.m. That's how long Okemos High School students stood in silence Thursday morning.

The students chose 8:15 a.m. because around 8:15 p.m. is when the shooter opened fire at Michigan State University Monday night killing three students and critically injuring five others.

“Today is to basically memorialize people who lost their lives in the MSU shooting, show recognition of those still fighting for their lives and show our support for the community," said senior Kate Farnum.

One minute for the three lives lost during the mass shooting: Brian Fraser, Alexandria Verner and Arielle Anderson.

“We all came together, and we're like, 'okay, this has got to happen, we've got to do something,'" said senior Devina Welch.

When the news came in Monday night of the shooting on campus, Welch said she was scared.

“We have so many friends and students from Okemos who go to MSU every day, dual-enrolled students, our staff have kids there. A lot of my friends and my sister's friends go there," Welch said. "So we were sitting in our beds, listening to the police scanner scared, trying to get updates from all of our friends making sure they were safe, texting them we love them.”

So she did what she could and planned a walk-out with Farnum.

“We need to use our voices and make change and for one to support each other and make sure that we're there for each other and people know that we're there,” Farnum said.

For these two seniors and many others in Okemos High School, the shooting at MSU is more than just a campus in their backyard.

“We were all sitting in our classrooms, or in the back of our classrooms, crying, texting her parents, we love them," Welch said. "It was really, really scary.”

Almost two weeks ago, Okemos was placed on lockdown due to a fake call to police of an active shooter.

“We kind of thought, you know, this can't be real, we're probably just on, you know, safety lockdown," Welch said. "There's probably nothing going on in our school because I feel like before then we all felt really safe here.”

Farnum and Welch say they know students are still dealing with the after effects of that situation.

“The hit of just like the MSU shooting, having it be so close to just one after another, and it's just stressful built up stress," Farnum said. "Not a lot of people are talking about it maybe as much as they need.”

Stress from two shooting threats and one of the victims in the hospital who is an Okemos graduate.

“The fact that it was one of our OHS grads like that just definitely really hits home you feel it a lot more," Farnum said. "It could have been anybody.”

They said the walk-out is more than just solidarity.

“I want to send a message to our lawmakers that this should not be happening," Welch said. "This is an American problem and solely an American problem and I think we need to step up in our generation, and we need to make change.”

And they hope this walk-out is the start of change they can have on the world.

“It starts with us," Farnum said. "We're going to be the ones who are going to be in power one day, like it needs to start with us."

In a statement, Okemos High School Principal Dan Kemsley said:

"Students want to feel empowered during times of distress. As the principal, it is my job to ensure orderliness and safety; protect free speech and right to assemble; and let students know that are free to participate or not. I am proud of all of our students and our school community. Our hearts go out to the victims and our neighbors, MSU."

Grand Ledge High School also held a walk-out this morning and Haslett High School hosted a silent walk-out at the end of the school day.

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