Students gather in gym in response to Borderline

Lunchtime features posters, anti-defamation pins, peer counseling

Students of Oak Park High School write promising messages in the memory of the 12 who died at Borderline.

Students gathered in the gym Nov. 8 to support each other following the shooting at Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks.

After the incident that occurred less than 15 minutes from Oak Park, high school counselors, the Associated Student Body and Advanced Peer Counselors held an open forum for student support by allowing them to discuss their feelings about the shooting and to sign posters for Borderline families and victims.

“I would be a wreck if it weren’t for the beautiful, comforting words of the students and staff around me,” sophomore Charlotte Robertson said. “I’m really thankful for the positive environment that they created. I got to converse with different crowds about their feelings and what they believe, which isn’t something I get to do every day. I’m really grateful that the gathering created that opportunity for Oak Park students.”

Various students were called in during first period to help brainstorm ideas to help their peers cope. In order to provide this environment, members of ASB, APC, Safe School Ambassadors and district personnel were consulted, including Stewart McGugan, the Director of Student Support & School Safety.

“We were hoping to provide a sense of community,” ASB president, advanced peer counselor and senior Danielle Gould said.

Those involved had hoped that students would find a comforting and welcoming environment upon entering the gym.

“I was expecting to experience a great sense of community strength and togetherness where we all could support each other,” APC member and senior Joey Ybarra said.

Although the gathering was a “calm and collected area where people could be heard,” Ybarra wished more people had attended.

“Overall, if we could have had more time to spread the word of our gathering, more people could’ve shown up,” Ybarra said. “With more people there, our peers who would want to share would’ve potentially felt more comfortable talking about their feelings and maybe have had a better time coping with the tragedy.”

Robertson said that “it’s difficult for students to want to participate” in school-related events.

“Often, when the staff or a school club puts on an event, students lack motivation and are repulsed by the idea of school spirit,” Robertson said. “I think if the students maybe met outside of school and held one big, lovely event such as a potluck picnic or a concert or even a group hike [participation would improve]. Kids need to have ways to cope and bond that don’t necessarily involve adults.”

According to counselor Randy McLelland, the lunchtime activity was successful regardless of student attendance.

“[Faculty members] are expecting to provide services … for students who were traumatized by the shootings as well as the fires,” McLelland said.