Students Gather For Chardon Candle Light Vigil

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On a cold February night, a sea of red shirts worn by a body of stunned students spanned the rolling hills of Ohio University’s College Green Tuesday.

Students were gathered, lining the bricks with candles, for a vigil acknowledging the tradgedy that occured Monday in Chardon, Ohio.

Only a day before, a teenage gunman opened fire in the local high school cafeteria killing three students and injuring two others, according to the Associated Press.

OU senior Kathryn Warren stood before those at the vigil and spoke, grappling for the words that paint a picture of her hometown.

“Chardon is one of the safest places to be,” Warren said. “It’s the kind of town where you leave your door unlocked.”

Warren lived in Chardon her entire life before attending Ohio University.

She remembers drinking chocolate milk in the very cafeteria where the shooting took place, but said she never thought she would see her hometown on CNN.

Past Chardon High School students spoke to the crowd, and nearly 70 Chardon graduates were present.

Hocking College Student Michael Akerman said his best friend graduated from Chardon High School.

His face expressed a frown, showing the sorrow he shared with his friend, and the thought of the shooting made Akerman emotional.

“All of us are going to school right now – you don’t know who’s going to turn on you,” Akerman said.

Event coordinator Cassie Ciarlillo explained the vigil in Athens shows support for those Chardon.

Ciarlillo said her town is all about doing the right thing, especially in times of need, so in true Chardon-style she planned the vigil program.

“I figured if we couldn’t be there, why not be together here,” Ciarlillo said.

The vigil included scripture reading by junior Kelley McArthur, a moment of silence, the performance of Amazing Grace, and singing of the Chardon High alma mater.

OU students wore small black and red ribbons, the school colors.

Those attending the vigil signed a simple poster board reading, “We may be 200 miles apart but we’re there in spirit and heart” in magic marker, which lay next to the names of the three deceased students.

The coming together of those inside and outside the Chardon community in remembrance of the young lives lost honors Chardon better than any speech could, Warren stated, before stepping back into the crowd. 

“That’s who we are – that’s why we’re feeling what we are – that’s Chardon,” Warren said.