After the Feb. 13 Michigan State University shooting that left three students dead and five critically injured, East Lansing High School teachers and students wanted to do something to help the community.
Mathematics teacher and Michigan State alumna Maggie Moore knew it was important for East Lansing to welcome the Spartan community back with open arms.
“I think one of the things I wanted to do was invoke that feeling of ‘We’re here, too,’” she said. “We know you’re going to say goodbye to your families today. We see you. We know you’re dealing with this. We got you,” Moore said.
Moore knew it would be hard for students to return and that is what drove her to ensure students would be welcomed back to a positive environment. She remembers coming back to campus and feeling disconnected from MSU.
“I, as an MSU student, remember returning on Sundays and feeling like I didn’t have a family. I loved my friends. I loved my roommates. I loved Michigan State, but when you leave your home and you come back to school it always took me a couple of days to settle back in and remember that I love it here,” she said.
On Feb. 18 during the ELHS floor hockey tournament, teachers and students set up a table with cut-out hearts and signs for students to fill out.
ELHS freshman Lucia Hylen was in charge of cutting the hearts out.
“We made so many hearts. I don’t even know how many I cut out. I cut out a lot,” said Hylen.
ELHS senior Naomi Sowa estimated about 500 hearts were made and put up around the MSU dorms.
“They were sending us out with bags filled with hearts,” Sowa said.
Students were sent out in groups to cover each neighborhood on campus with hearts, specifically the main doors on campus buildings.
Senior Barbara Stout explained that MSU plays a huge part in the East Lansing community, which is why she wanted to make sure students knew the community was with them.
“East Lansing community is totally behind all of the MSU students, and we understand,” Stout said. “I just feel like so many parents and people who live in East Lansing just want to do more, and I hope students realize if you need something the people of East Lansing will help.”
Moore was impressed with her students ’work ethic and desire to help.
“I thought I was going to spend all afternoon going to all dorms [My students] were gone. I texted my mom at 12:45 and said ‘I’m home, they did it.’ And she said, ‘When you’re teaching a high school you know you have an army behind you.’”
Students and teachers set up repurposed signs with inspiring messages on buildings down Burcham Drive.
“Our signs on Burcham, we received such feedback about those because that’s such a highly trafficked area. I’m not sure when to take them down,” Moore said. “I run down Burcham every morning and I straighten the signs,” she said.
ELHS senior Annabelle Dimaggio, whose group covered the south neighborhood, explained how proud she was of the community for coming together and being there for each other.
“We’ve grown up here. I’ve had football season tickets since I was 6 months old,” Dimaggio said. “We’ve always had a strong community. When this happened, I feel like everyone really stepped up and put all of their inner and outer needs aside, and we were all focused on making MSU the best place it can be and helping the students however we could, even if it’s just a small heart on the door.”