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TROY, N.Y. >> Although the members of the Russell Sage College community did not necessarily know any of the 17 individuals who were killed Feb. 14 during a high school shooting in Florida, the college community came together on campus in Bush Memorial Hall on Thursday night to remember the victims during a special memorial.

The memorial and candlelight vigil was organized by the Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung Center for the Promotion of Mental Health and School Safety at The Sage Colleges. The center works to raise awareness of student mental health, suicide prevention, trauma-sensitive schools, and school safety through public lectures and professional development for educators.

The center was established in memory of Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, a doctoral candidate in Educational Leadership at Sage and principal of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., who was killed in a shooting at her school in December 2012.

Last week, on Valentine’s Day, the shooting suspect, identified as 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, allegedly entered his former school at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, with a semi-automatic rifle and killed 14 students and three adults.


“Our short program tonight is an opportunity to mourn the latest victims of the school shooting and to keep their memory alive,” said Sage Colleges President Christopher Ames to start off the memorial.

Event organizer Jerome Steele, assistant professor of Education Leadership at Sage Colleges, said there have been too many school shootings across the country. Students deserve to attend school in a safe environment, he said.

“Every child has a right to a safe learning environment. However, since the tragedy at Sandy Hook, there have been at least 439 school shootings, of which 438 people have been shot and of that 438, 138 have died. When will this national nightmare end?” Steele asked during the program.

During the memorial, students from Sage read aloud the names of the victims killed in last week’s shooting, with a brief biography of each victim, and then a candle was lit after each name was read.

The president of Russell Sage College Student Senate, Emily Taylor, also shared some of her reflections during the program.

“Things that we used to do are now something that we have to be scared of,” said Taylor as she was becoming emotional while referencing recent school shootings along with mall and movie theater shootings.

To end the program, Michelle Thivierge and Darren Gundrum, Catholic and Protestant Chaplains with the Jane H. Wells Spirituality Center read the “Prayer of the Children”, by Kurt Bestor., index News of business criminal law politics soccer sports celebrity lifestyle video images in the world and the world today.

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