Chardon vigil marks a stronger community

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Abigail Yates (right), a 16-year-old junior at Chardon High School, and Nate Mueller (left), an 18-year-old graduate of Chardon High School, burn a paper lantern to honor the second anniversary service for the shooting that claimed three lives.

Elaina Sauber

Around 200 people came together for a vigil Thursday night at Chardon High School in remembrance of the two-year anniversary of the Chardon High School shooting that claimed the lives of three students.  

The vigil took place in the school’s cafeteria — the same room where the shooting took place two years ago, killing Daniel Parmertor, Russell King, Jr. and Demetrius Hewlin. Speakers included Chardon students who played songs and read passages from scripture as those in attendance blinked back tears.

Although weather didn’t permit the planned release of 100 paper lanterns in front of the school, residents and students crowded into the cafeteria in support of one another and the victims’ families.

A sobering mood hung in the air as banners that read “#thinkkindness” and fliers promoting student mindfulness and encouraging students to “come as you are” adorned the cafeteria’s walls.

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A Chardon student passes by a firetruck parked outside of Chardon High School at the second year memorial service for the shooting that claimed three lives. Photo by Jacob Byk.

In the two years following the shooting, Chardon schools and the local community have made great strides in the road back to recovery — and normality.  

Local tattoo artist Mikey Lane has noticed the stronger sense of community in the years since the shooting.

“I’ve noticed a lot of people trying to get together, you know, unite and get through it,” he said.  “There’s not so much mourning going on — people are just trying to come together, do good things and be happy.”  

Earlier this month, Chardon Schools chose to designate February “Hilltopper Kindness Month,” encouraging students and staff to perform simple acts of kindness to honor the shooting victims.  

Freshman Lindsey Pucella recalls the day of the shooting and has also noticed a remarkable sense of solidarity in the community since then.

“We’re all here to remember, but at the same time, we’re here to forgive but not forget,” Pucella said. “This is a very forgiving and understanding community, and to have a big tragedy like this happen, it’s taking all of us together to forgive and support the families who were affected the most, especially on nights like this.”  

Resident Chris Klee believes that despite the community’s constant reminder of the 2012 shooting, people are healing and ready to move on.

“It’s a small town, it’s a close-knit community, and these people are very warm and welcoming to every stranger,” he said. “So rather than them being completely depressed or distraught over it, they want to move on. And it’s not moving away from the problem but more not having to relive the problem.”  

 

Contact Elaina Sauber at [email protected].

Video by Jason Kostura.