The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

April 30, 2013

Boston is in their hearts

By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

HELENA, Okla. — Although Boston is far away from northwest Oklahoma, the people of Boston are in the hearts of students at Timberlake High School.

Over the weekend, 41 Timberlake students — more than half those who attend the rural high school — wrote letters and poems, gathered quotes and created art to send messages of love and support to those who were injured, who lost loved ones, or who behaved heroically during the bombing at the Boston Marathon and its aftermath.

Junior Haley Blewitt wrote to Jeff Bauman, whose photo was published as he was wheeled away from the scene with horrific injuries riveted millions.

“I thought it was really cool that when he came to from surgery, he helped the police identify the bombers,” Haley said. “I told him my dad is a retired Air Force pilot, who taught me and my siblings not to put up with bullying — and terrorism, I think, is a form of bullying. He stood up to terror.”

Haley said her entire family got involved in her letter to Bauman.

“My family is praying for him, and we are very grateful to have him in our country,” Haley said.

Sophomore Raven Bishard said she drew on her own family’s experience to find what she wanted to say to the families of those who died.

“I did quotes representing how they felt, because I’ve dealt with it before,” Raven said. “On May 24, 2011, I lost my sister in the tornado at El Reno. She was 16. I’m 16 now.”

Raven said she used a mixture of quotes from various sources to encourage the families to remain strong and remind them that their loved ones will always live in their hearts.

Sophomore Shaylinna Frederick, a special education student, opted to create art instead of write a letter.

“I’m not the person who likes to write letters because I can’t spell,” Shaylinna said.

Instead, Shaylinna drew two ornate crosses, one with cloth draped over it and the other wound by the stem of a rose affixed to its center.

Senior Hayden Nickel said once she got started writing letters, she wrote 11 of them.

“I wrote to everybody, the people who were hurt by it, the people who were heroes, the people who lost family members,” Hayden said. “At first, I didn’t know what to write to these people. I got started writing and I thought everyone needed to be written to. I’ve lost loved ones, too.

Hayden said she used scripture quotes, especially Philippians 4:13 and Jeremiah 29:11, in her letters.

Levi Sanders, also a senior, said he wrote to Bauman and the family of Sean Collier, the MIT officer slain on the campus.

Freshman Shannon Moore wrote to Adrianne Haslet-Davis.

“She’s a dancer and dance instructor,” Shannon said. “She said she’s going to still dance, and I admire that because I don’t think I would have the strength to do that.”

Laurie Gwinn, Timberake English teacher, said she’s proud of the students’ response to the events in Boston.

“I have some of the most amazing, caring students that any teacher could hope for,” Gwinn said. “As we talked about the victims and the heroes, there were tears all around, from these wonderful high school students in small-town Oklahoma, students who have truly been moved by what happened nearly 2,000 miles away.”

The students decided to take up donations to send to Boston, Gwinn said.

“We may be a rural school with a small budget, but the hearts of these kiddos are anything but small,” Gwinn said.

Gwinn said a check will be sent to Boston on the last day of school — May 17. Anyone who wants to contribute to the Timberlake project can mail a check to Laurie Gwinn, Timberlake High School, P.O. Box 287, Helena, OK 73741. Write “Boston Donations” on the memo line.

The money will be sent to One Fund Boston, a fund set up specially to help those injured by the bombing.

For information on the Timberlake donation fund, call Gwinn at (580) 852-3281.