I cried today, for the first time since the Florida shooting, thanks to the brave and compassionate students of Monteverde Friends School. They organized a sit-in, during their recess break, for 17 minutes – one for each student and teacher who lost their lives.

Knowing that some students would still be playing soccer and games during recess, I had suggested using the cemetery for a peaceful, quiet place of reflection. But the students decided that the basketball court would be better – they wanted everyone to witness this act of solidarity. So it was that we sat quietly amidst the screams and laughter of other children playing – a strangely-appropriate way to establish context and balance.

I cried as our Head of School read the names and ages of each of the 17 students and teachers who lost their lives.
I cried just thinking how it would feel if any of the young people in our circle experienced this fear or tragedy.
I cried for all the young people in the US and many places in the world who go to school and live their lives in fear.

Then I cried for the strength and hope of our Costa Rican and foreign students who organized this sit-in. They care. They get it. They know it could be them, and that it shouldn’t be anyone. They know that their silence, woven together with the silence of students doing the same thing in thousands of other schools, would speak eloquently and powerfully. They believe. And their belief gave me hope.

Here in Monteverde we have earthquake drills instead of lock-down drills. Puma safety talks instead of stranger-danger talks. Our students come to school not worried about weapons or violence – they come to learn, to play, to enjoy each other. Of course there are conflicts and growing pains, but the natural ones, the ones that are part of learning. Our children are leading the free, open life and school experience that children everywhere deserve.