Story by Ben Henschel.
Students, parents, teachers and neighbors all convened in the back lawn of Brookwood Elementary to celebrate each other’s company in wake of Westboro Baptist Church’s protests at the front of the school on Wednesday, Sept. 11. Donuts and embraces were shared, music was played by the SM South band and games of football and tag swept the field.
The event was organized by Brookwood Principal Kevin Frick, who “led the charge” shortly after learning of the plans to protest in front of the school, according to District Superintendent Mike Fulton. Plans were quickly made to lead all activities in the back near the playground to ensure that the protests were far from front and center as students came to school. This was to make sure that “Westboro [would not] have an audience,” according to a message sent to community members detailing the event.
Instructions such as not to use the main entrance for drop-offs from 7:30 to 8:15 and to refrain from riding bikes, since the drop-off lanes and bike racks are at the front of the school, were sent out beforehand — as well as suggestions to bring blankets and breakfast to enjoy the band and neighboring company.
The celebration was a direct testament to the Brookwood community’s caring, inclusive nature, according to District Superintendent Dr. Michael Fulton.
“This is a fantastic celebration of the value of every child here,” Fulton said. “From people intentionally walking their kids to school today, too. The welcoming environment here for all the kids is just fantastic.”
As the morning’s activities came to a close, Frick rallied the students around him. With beady eyes and smiles upon him, he thanked all in attendance and closed the celebration.
“You are loved. You are cared for. Never forget that,” Frick said. “Give your parents a hug, tell them you love them and find a teacher to go inside.”