Dr. Eric Holland has instructed his Pack to battle evil, hate and violence with love, kindness and acceptance. The brainchild of Dr. Holland, 17 for 17 is a program Rome High’s principal has implemented at the high school level that honors the 17 victims of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with 17 seconds of silence and openly showing kindness to others. Rome Middle School heard the howl and has followed in their paw tracks.

Kelli Wolfe, eighth-grade teacher at RMS, and Sherri Stowers, teacher and organizer for the RMS Leadership Team, have partnered with students to take Dr. Holland’s idea to the next level. “After the Parkland shooting, our schools observed 17 minutes of silence and many of our Leadership Team students participated. This idea came about because we wanted to do something as a tribute to the children who lost their lives,” Wolfe explained. “We wanted to form a sort of memorial to honor them.”

After pitching the idea to the student-led team, they ran with the idea. “One of their ideas was to read an inspirational quote during the announcements each day. Our students researched the quotes and wrote the things they wanted to say. Their ideas come through me and Ms. Stowers for approval, but these children are creating the material on their own,” Wolfe said.

The students have also formed a hash tag “#RMS17for17”. “We are collecting materials about kindness and acceptance and putting it on our social media pages. From our school pages, students can share the quotes and resources they have gathered with their classmates,” said Wolfe.

April 2, 2018 is the first day of a 17 day campaign put together by students on Rome Middle’s Leadership Team. For the next 17 school days, excluding weekends, students will create bulletin boards, hang posters and offer kind words to those peers they normally pass in the hallway. For all who enter the doors at RMS, the evidence of 17 for 17 is clear. Posters pass encouraging words and kind messages poke from the seams of lockers.

“We are really hoping for an infectious impact on the school. As word starts to spread, through the efforts of our students, people will become more aware of what we are doing,” Wolfe explained. “We thought that this would be a great way to add some extra service project opportunities for our students. We are allowing each student at Rome Middle to honor the Parkland 17 however they wish, as long as they use kindness as the catalyst for their idea.”

With options like carrying someone’s books to class and holding the door for a teacher, every student will have a chance to remember those fallen in Parkland, Fla. in their own special way.