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JCHS students reach out to victims with music on YouTube

When Johnson County High School Spanish teacher Jennifer Gillenwater received the news of the massacre of 20 innocent children and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School last week, she reacted as most of us did. She sought to understand how such a nightmare could be real, attempting in vain to wrap her mind around the horrible events that had taken place on December 14, 2012. Finally her shock and disbelief turned to a search for an outlet for the emotions churning inside her. The next day she penned these words…

“Sometimes we just don’t understand
When lives get taken, what is His plan?
This world of sin can’t stand for long
Until He leads His children home.

“And 20 bright stars will light the way
As we travel on God’s highway,
Twenty sweet angels will hold our hands
As we go home to the Promised Land.

“As we pray for those lost lives
Remember those who were at their side
And the families who suffer so
May God’s love they come to know.

“Bright morning stars are shining,
Bright morning stars are shining,
Bright morning stars are shining,
Day is a-breaking in my soul.”

Jennifer Gillenwater knew that her work was not finished until she had put the words to music and shared them with others. She chose to invite her students at the high school to help bring the song to life on “You Tube.”
“The students really need this outlet, I feel,” said Gillenwater. Her hope is that this expression of love will help them deal with the sadness and helplessness that so many have been experiencing.
With the help of fellow teacher and music teacher, Lisa Zeggert, a musical group was quickly formed and the song was videoed last Thursday. The students from Zeggert’s music class and Gillenwater’s Spanish II class did the vocals with April Wolfe performing a solo rap that she wrote herself. Antonio Holland played bass and ???? provided a haunting drum beat in the background. Brad Harris, Mikey Furches, Caleb Aldridge and Ryan Gambill accompanied the group on guitars. Zeggert played the keyboard with Gillenwater on the dulcimer. “Twenty bright stars,” each with the name of a child that died in Connecticut, were raised high above their heads by the students during the performance.
Gillenwater says, “All of us at JCHS encourage everyone to participate in the ‘26 Acts of Kindness’ over the holidays. Remember the innocent children, teachers and other adults killed in the CT tragedy.”
She is referring to a movement that originated with NBC News’ Ann Curry and her search to bring some good out of something so bad. “Imagine if everyone could commit to doing one act of kindness for each precious life lost. An act of kindness big or small,” Tweeted Curry.
The idea is to do 26 separate acts of kindness for our fellowman, each in memory of a Sandy Hook victim. The campaign has taken off on Facebook and Twitter with variations of 27 acts to include the gunman’s mother who was the first killed or 20 acts to focus on the children. Many participants are making cards that they give to the recipient of their acts of kindness that read similar to this, “To honor the 26 taken from us at Sandy Hook, we are doing 26 acts of kindness. You are #1.” Ideas are as varied as the people involved ranging from raking leaves for an elderly person to giving someone in a department store a gift certificate for $5 to buying gas for someone’s car.
The Tomahawk is encouraging and challenging our readers to participate in the “26 Acts of Kindness” campaign. Share your deeds with us on Facebook and we will choose the ones we find most interesting and touching in a Tomahawk story in January.
In the words of Jennifer Gillenwater, “Love can overcome hate.”
Let’s join together and make it happen.