Thursday evening several dozen families of Sunset Ridge Elementary in Pacifica gathered in the school’s outdoor courtyard to celebrate community, as a response to the deadly shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut, in which 20 children died last Friday.
“It was pulled together pretty quickly,” said Sunset Ridge Principal Ellie Cundiff, of Thursday’s event. She and a Sunset Ridge parent originally were thinking of hosting a vigil, but decided instead to make the event more of a positive affirmation of local community and togetherness.
Beginning at around 7 p.m., volunteers served families hot chocolate, coffee and popcorn at the first ever Light the Night event. Cundiff spoke and an elaborate holiday lights display was flipped on in the courtyard.
Pacifica parents John Edwards and Brian Jensen had created the display this week with lights and cords donated from Ace Hardware Linda Mar, Pacific Manor Hardware, Home Depot Pro and Home Depot II in Colma.
Several parents said they were not at the event specifically because of the Sandy Hook shooting, but just because it was a fun community-building event.
Bernnadett, a parent of 2 Sunset Ridge students said that she enjoyed the event because, after moving to Pacifica recently from San Francisco, she was able to introduce herself to other families. On Thursday evening, she said that her kids were not aware of the shooting.
Don, who has a 4th and 2nd grader at Sunset Ridge said that his kids heard about the shooting on the morning news and then asked him about it. Samuel, a parent of a 5th grader and 1st grader said he changed the TV channel a couple of times when news of the shooting came on and his kids were watching.
Cundiff said that some of the school’s older students knew of the Connecticut shooting immediately, but that most of the younger kids are too young to understand it. Sunset Ridge teachers and staff met Monday morning to discuss safety procedures, as well as how to respond to students’ questions about the tragic events.
“There have been a lot of emails between the [Pacifica] superintendent and school principals,” to discuss current safety and emergency plans Cundiff said. She said there are no big changes planned for Sunset Ridge Elementary, but that the recent events have spurred an opportunity to reevaluate school safety. She said local schools have been rechecking items such as door locks and emergency supply backpacks in classrooms.
Sunset Ridge had already undergone a full lock-down drill before last Friday’s tragic events.
Cundiff told Patch she hopes Light the Night will become an annual event to bring families together to strengthen community ties in years to come.
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