On Saturday, 12 August 2017 I was a couple of hundred miles away in Aberdeen, MD. My son was playing in the Cal Ripken Experience Chesapeake Tournament.

By the early afternoon, I began to receive text messages from family members and friends from other parts of the country. I grew more and more anxious as my Twitter feed reported angry exchanges, fights, then a fatality.

As I looked around, other families were talking on the phone, checking on employees, or sharing their disbelief and sadness with each other.

All of a sudden I turned my attention to the field. Pre-game activity had stopped and the 13, 10 year old boys were down on one knee with their arms wrapped around each other and heads bowed. They were praying.

They weren’t praying for a win. They were praying for Charlottesville. They were praying for the safety and security of its people. They were praying for something they don’t know a whole lot about…an end to racism, hate, and evil.

In that moment I no longer felt sad. I felt hope. I shared this story with our staff on our first day of teacher pre-service and I told them that I believe in our young people and I believe in every member of our school community. We can have an impact on this hatred, this evil. We can challenge one another to make a difference in the lives of the next generation, so that they embrace people from all backgrounds, races, religions, etc. In our differences, we are similar.

In just a couple of days, we will welcome over 850 students. We will welcome them to a place where they are safe. We will welcome them to a place where they can learn. We will welcome them to love one another and make the world a better place.