Cedar Rapids Vigil Reflects on Connecticut School Shooting Victims

By Jillian Petrus, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Only one person who attended a candlelight vigil held at Cedar Rapids Washington High School Sunday night had a direct link to the Sandy Hook Shooting victims. Still, every person at the vigil said they felt both saddened and deeply connected to the horrific event.

"We share the things that make us human," said organizer and Cedar Rapids Washington teacher, Akwi Nji. "This holiday is supposed to be about family, trust, love and faith in each other and our communities...and our schools."

Nji teaches English at Washington High School. She's also the mother of a five and eight-year-old. She said the horrific event in Connecticut is something that should be felt by the entire nation. Nji said she wanted her fellow staff and students, like Makayla Kellner, to know it's ok to cry over this loss.

"I just couldn't believe it happened," Kellner said. "This is just a way for us to come together and say we are here to help you heal."

The group of about thirty people gathered at the high schools track around 6:30 to sing songs, read poems and letters. They also read off the name of each victim. Twenty children and six adults.

"I think of my students as my children," Nji said. "I want to do for them what I'd hope another teacher would do for my own children in my absence."

Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Dubuque also held a vigil for the victims Sunday night. That vigil was organized by two Clark University college students.
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