The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

By Lexi Belculfine, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

MURRYSVILLE, Pa. — On Tuesday, Fatima Ahmad returned to Franklin Regional High School and found an unwelcome surprise.

The junior from Murrysville traveled familiar hallways to her locker, hoping to grab books so she could study before she and her classmates returned to school Wednesday.

When the metal locker door swung open, there it was, she told more than a thousand people at a community rally Tuesday night.

Her lunch, packed for last Wednesday, sat there, uneaten and decaying.

She threw it out, but the symbolism didn’t escape her, she said, as a cold wind whipped a light layer of snow off the pavilion roof behind her.

“We should all open ourselves up, like I did to my locker,” Fatima said. “We shouldn’t let the bad things — like my lunch — stew inside of us and rot.”

Twenty-one students and a security guard were injured last week during a knife attack at the school. Student Alex Hribal, 16, has been charged as an adult in the attack.

Numerous churches and community groups gathered more than 1,250 white tapered candles in just 24 hours so the community could rally to send students, staff and teachers back to school today “with love” in Murrysville Community Park as twilight faded to darkness Tuesday. Snow started falling halfway through the gathering, as the temperature continued falling further below freezing.

Community members, parents, alumni and students stood on a grassy hill in the park, bundled in puffy winter coats, Franklin Regional letterman jackets, scarves and gloves, holding each other tight. First responders wore safety green jackets, and toddlers sat in folding chairs, only their eyes and the tops of their hats peeking out from under thick blankets.

The group was subdued, laughing only timidly at the jokes of emcee Bill Rehkopf, a KDKA radio personality and Franklin Regional alumnus.

On-duty Monroeville police Officer James Markel took a break from his shift to address the group, “You have a lot to be thankful for. You went through a tragedy and held your heads high.”

He sang “You Raise Me Up,” and his voice echoed off the hills behind the group, filling the valley.

Murrysville police Chief Tom Seefeld told parents, “The real heroes were your children and the staff in your school.”

The loudest cheers of the night were for the first responders until the mother and brothers of student Jared Boger, who is still in University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Presbyterian hospital following the attack, took the microphone.

“Thank you for the outpouring of love and support,” Janet Boger said. “He’s doing well. As long as they can control the pain, he’s goofy, in a good mood.

“He will recover from this,” she said.

As she and two of her sons walked away, they shook the hands of school administrators and first responders.

Fatima and other Franklin Regional students also took the microphone, to reflect and look forward. All of them expressed sentiments of thanks — thanks to teachers and first responders, thanks to each other.

By 8:45 p.m., candles were lit, and slowly a dull glow burst from the crowd. Flames flickered in the frigid wind, and people turned to each other, re-lighting flames that had extinguished, as students and alumni sang the district’s alma mater.

“… We will honor and defend thee, Franklin High School Blue and Gold.”

AFP Photo/Ross Mantle


Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Peggy Nienaber

YouTube Screenshot

Peggy Nienaber may provide her own downfall thanks to hubris. Rolling Stone revealed on Wednesday that the Christian fascist, who serves as vice president of the nonprofit anti-abortion group Faith & Liberty and serves as hate group Liberty Counsel’s executive director of D.C. Ministry, was caught bragging about praying with Supreme Court justices. While appearing on a livestream she didn’t realize was being recorded, Nienaber confirmed that she prays with some of the justices inside the Supreme Court itself.

“They will pray with us, those that like us to pray with them,” Nienaber said, adding with a laugh, “Some of them don’t!” This claim was backed up by the founder of the ministry that ultimately got absorbed into Liberty Counsel. Rob Schenck, who used to work alongside Nienaber, but has since renounced his actions. Yet from the late 1990s onward, he prayed with Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Antonin Scalia in the Supreme Court itself.

Keep reading... Show less

Gov. Ron DeSantis

YouTube Screenshot

'We're not seeing a whole lot of common sense in his policies. He tends to toss aside serious ideas about climate change as just left-wing politics,' said Sierra Club Florida political director Luigi Guadarrama.

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has been energetically whittling away at civil rights in his state, pursuing anti-LGBTQ policies, pushing intolerance and censorship in schools, and restricting voting rights.

Keep reading... Show less
{{ }}