Newtown victims, schools mourned during Germantown vigil

Thursday night’s wet weather didn’t stop a group of residents from hitting the streets to mourn the 26 victims of last week’s deadly shooting in Newtown, Conn.

As cars rolled up Germantown Avenue, members of the First United Methodist Church of Germantown and Janes United Memorial Methodist Church stood along the sidewalk in front of Germantown High School with lit candles.

They also held cards that each contained a name of one of the victims, who died inside Sandy Hook Elementary School, the majority of whom were first and second graders.

“Thank you for coming out in the rain to make a call for justice and rebirth of life,” said Rev. Lorelei Toombs of FUMCOG during the ‘Candle Light Vigil For Victims and Survivors.’

After a prayer, Toombs gave participants the opportunity to share their sentiments about violence and community support.

“For many of us we felt our own heart stop,” said Toombs. “The children could have been our own.”

The group then read the 26 names aloud. Participants were then asked to shout out names or circumstances that should also be mourned.

Attention quickly turned to the streets of Philadelphia and the schools slated to close under the School District of Philadelphia’s Facilities Master Plan.

District officials recommended last week that 37 schools, including Germantown High School, close at the end of this academic year.

“All the children in Philadelphia who die in the streets every day,” said Cathy Schrader.

“The community of Germantown High School,” said Ruth Thornton.

The school-focused shout-outs inspired the group to walk around GHS’ High Street building during the vigil in hopes of “inspiring people to invest in Germantown and the school district in general,” said Rev. Andrew Foster of Janes Memorial.

Participants also recognized the possible loss of Robert Fulton Elementary, which sits across the street from GHS. The school is also slated to close.

As attention turned back towards Sandy Hook, Jean Warrington of the Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting said she plans to partner with other groups to pay a visit to elected officials, “especially those who heavily support the NRA.”

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