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Monday, December 24, 2012

YOFHS Student Ponders Connecticut Tragedy

The horrific events in Connecticut have rocked our nation, causing all to reflect on what is important and precious in life. Our students' well being - physical and emotional - has been uppermost in the minds of YOF faculty, staff and administration. Parents have received updates detailing our school's responses in helping our children cope with the news and our ongoing steps to maintain the utmost measures of preparedness and security on our campuses.

This week, our SGO president, Michelle Sabbagh, shared her thoughts about the tragedy with her classmates.

Victoria Soto heard the murderer approaching. A 27-year old first grade teacher, she had her entire life in front of her. Her immediate instinct was to protect those babies, her students. She pushed them into a closet. Some of her first graders tried to run. Ms. Soto put herself as the barrier between her students and the gunman. She tried to distract him. She told them her class was at the gym. She was shot and killed, but her life was not lived in vain. Vickie Soto gave her life to save her students. She is a hero.

We can't change the past. The catastrophic massacre of this past Friday happened. While we can't change what happened, we can choose where we will go from here and how we'll respond. There are 27 families out there that are suffering. Our innate response upon hearing stories from this calamity is to connect to them as humans, to feel their loss, to empathize, and to appreciate what we have.

As we all appreciate our families a little more after this event, we may have forgotten to stop and appreciate our home away from home. Flatbush is our second family, and like all families, sometimes we take it for granted. Last Tuesday at our SGO Chanukah Fair, our teachers showed us how much they care and how much fun we can have together. Our teachers care about us. Day in and day out, they give themselves to us: on trips and seminars; when they invite us for Shabbat meals; when they invite us to email them or speak to them during their lunch to address our concerns. They love us. Our administration invests time and energy to keep our building safe every day. We have fire drills and safety drills; we have an amazing security staff. At the end of the day, we spend more time in this building than we do in our own homes. We create unbreakable bonds with our friends here. We create memories for a lifetime.

Take the time to appreciate your Flatbush Family.

Smile at teachers. Listen to them. Thank them.

We are nearing finals time. Tutor. Share. Be a better friend.

As we contemplate an unimaginable horror, let us stand in solidarity with the families of Sandy Hook. Let us learn from the selflessness of the fallen heros. Let us renew our commitment to our family here at the Yeshivah of Flatbush.

Let us aspire to become heroes ourselves. It's those small acts of selflessness that accumulate and define a person as an everyday hero. Let us dedicate, let us consecrate their memories with our renewed passion for kindness. As Arthur Ashe said, "True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost."
As students walked into school each day last week they reflected on the tragedy in Newtown Sandy Hook Elementary School. A memorial video and candle with the names of all the victims were on display in the lobby.