“The idea for walkups was to encourage each other and we wanted everyone to be proactive, but take the opportunity to strengthen our educational community” Aquan Grant, principal at Arbor Preparatory High School, told ABC News.
Grant brainstormed with other administrators about Wednesday’s event to honor the 17 lives lost one month prior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. They ultimately decided that the notion of having students and teachers walk up to their peers and share positive messages, quotes and other uplifting notions would be more powerful than a moment of silence.
“We thought about doing 17 seconds of silence, but realized that’s not enough,” Grant said. “One of our math teachers suggested going around the school and leaving post-it notes with uplifting messages.”
When class started at 9:25 a.m. all 313 students received 17 post-its to write their uplifting notes — 14 to put on student lockers and another three to give to teachers. The notes included a range of messages from famous inspirational quotes to compliments for specific students and teachers.
Principal Grant made an announcement over the loudspeaker at 10 a.m., the time of the nationwide walkout, saying they would take that time to acknowledge the event and spread their words of encouragement on the lockers and classroom doors.
“Going around and doing the walk ups is going to sit with them and those messages will create lasting impressions,” Grant said. “It was such an amazing day. All the students, teachers and parents loved it and our assistant principal Danielle Carlson was able to capture it in such an amazing way.”
Many of the teachers and students told Grant they “feel encouraged to continue to lift each other up during hard times.”
“It was an overwhelmingly powerful and positive experience for everyone involved.”
Fellow teacher Heather Snoeberger told Grant “[I] was overly impressed with how the students embraced the activity both in the classroom and in the hallways.”
“It was a huge morale boost that we all needed,” Snoeberger added. “It seemed to successfully turn a very negative fixation on a horrific situation into a team building, family time.”