Is it OK if I call you friends? We don't know each other, but we share a common bond. I am an MP alumn. Class of '97.
It's been years since I stepped foot on campus. If I remember correctly it was to see a production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in the spring of '99. Later that year, I moved away and haven't returned. But I miss you. And no matter the distance or the number of years that separate us, I still consider you home. My school. My city.
The MPHS campus holds many memories for me. Some good, others not so good. However, even my worst high school memories pale in comparison to the grief you are all feeling today. For that reason, my heart is breaking for you. My body is 300 miles away, but my thoughts are in Marysville.
Today is hard. Tomorrow will be the same. In fact, the next time you enter a classroom, it will be difficult. But there are a few things that I know to be true that I hope will help you.
First, and most important: this is not the end. When tragedy strikes, it's easy to feel as if your world grinds to a stop. While there is a sense of finality that surrounds you, there is much more life ahead of you than anything that lies behind you. Today might have been the closing of one chapter, but tomorrow is a new page in your story - the beginning of the next chapter. You still have the power to achieve greatness. Despite the horrors of today, I believe that your futures hold many wonderful things.
You also need to know that where there is darkness, there is also light. Right now, you have a choice. You can either let the darkness of tragedy consume you. Or, you can choose to be a light in that darkness. Hug your friends. Remind your family how much you love them. Be a shoulder to cry on. Find healing in helping others heal. Find something to hope for and cling to it.
This next bit I know to be true but I can't really explain why. It is just something that I feel at the very root of everything that I am. This tragedy does not define you. You are bigger than this. You are stronger than this. And you are worth more than you will ever comprehend. Each and every one of you are here for a reason. Your family loves you. Your friends need you. And now, more than you may ever recognize, you school needs you. Even if you feel like an outcast or that you don't fit in, just know that there is someone out there who needs you to be here.
Finally, something I see in overwhelming evidence: you are not alone. I have been checking in with friends and former classmates and one theme stands: We support you. Your school is an irrevocable part of what makes us who we are today and that connects us to you. We are your biggest fans. All over, I'm seeing my peers change their profile picture to that of the MP logo and our Tomahawk. We are showing you how much this school means to us and how much we believe in you. The kids I graduated with, they've grown up to be actors, musicians, writers, teachers, preachers, lawyers. We all said the same thing. From members of your community to Cheyenne Wyoming to Dallas Texas; from SoCal to Salt Lake City to Indiana. The message remains the same. Our prayers are with you. Your pain is ours. We are grieving with you.
Sincerely and with much love.