Upstate superintendent brings dreamcatcher passed down since Columbine to Parkland


An Upstate superintendent is back from her recent trip to Parkland, Florida, to hand deliver a dreamcatcher to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, from Townville Elementary School.

The dreamcatcher has been passed down to schools dealing with deadly shootings since Columbine High School in 1999. Most recently, it's been at Townville Elementary. That is, until Anderson District Four Superintendent Dr. Joanne Avery traveled to Florida to pass along the symbol of hope and healing to Parkland.

Avery traveled with Townville Elementary Principal Denise Fredericks, and spent the day with students and staff there on March 16th, one month after a deadly school shooting left 17 dead at the high school.

Avery told the students at Stoneman Douglas, "We've been where you are and we're here for you, and that was a really powerful message for the people in the community. It was really powerful for the students."

The trip had a purpose: to pass along the dreamcatcher, made more than 30 years ago by students and a teacher in Michigan, for those at Columbine High School, to help them heal.

"I said I think this is the one, we are ready to pass it on," Avery said. "Because it's such a student-led voice with this school shooting, it just resonated for both Denise and I that we wanted to go there."

Avery says, even more importantly, to make sure those at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School know they are not alone.

"They were just amazed that we would come," she said. "It was like, I can't believe a principal and a superintendent flew down here to be with us. They were just really amazed by that, but again I think that's part of the outreach to show that visible sign."

Avery tells us, Parkland was the sixth stop for the dreamcatcher since Columbine, and during the trip, the Parkland students decided, Stoneman Douglas would be the last stop, and the dreamcatcher would be retired.

"Then there was the moment I presented the dreamcatcher to the students, and they made the decision to hold it for 17 seconds and then to give it back," Avery said. " I have been asked, why did they do that, and I think it was more symbolic of what they are trying to do in Parkland, they really don't want this to happen again."

Avery says the dreamcatcher is now with a group in Red Lake, in Northern Minnesota, where a school shooting happened in 2005. She believes it will eventually end up in a museum.

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