Parents, alumni, and faith leaders react to shooting at Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School

Published: Aug. 19, 2021 at 10:34 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 19, 2021 at 10:35 PM EDT
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ORANGEBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - Parents, alumni, and faith leaders in the Orangeburg community are responding in the wake of Wednesday’s shooting at Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School that left three students injured.

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One Orangeburg-Wilkinson alum, who requested anonymity due to safety concerns, is asking for prayers for the community she’s called home for years.

“Continue to pray,” she said. “Continue to pray, come together as a community, and let’s work this out.”

Rev. Ken Nelson, Orangeburg District Superintendent of the United Methodist Church, is in conversation with other local faith leaders in an attempt to hold a tangible gathering - while being mindful of Covid safety protocols - for Orangeburg residents across denominational ranks.

“What we’re really trying to say is that the faith community will not be silent in the midst of difficult circumstances,” he said. “That we support our schools, our parents, our educators. We support law enforcement in the midst of this. And so it’s important for us to bear witness to the fact that we want to be a good partner within the life of the community, and that in particular, we care for those who are most vulnerable in our community.”

The Orangeburg alumnus called on community leaders to do more to lift students up outside of school.

“Community leaders please stand up,” she said. “Please do something for our city of Orangeburg. Because we’re failing and it’s not the kids and it’s the parents. We need city leaders to stand up and make a change.”

The parent of an 11th grader at Orangeburg-Wilkinson, who lives just up the road from the high school, said she was up all night trying to process Wednesday’s events.

The high school will welcome back students on Monday, but this parent says her child won’t be among them. She’s taking him out of the school because she fears for his safety.

Sheriff Leroy Ravenell announced at a Thursday press conference that a 14-year-old was arrested in connection with the shooting. It is unknown at this time whether the shooter was a student at Orangeburg-Wilkinson.

PREVIOUS STORY | 14 year old arrested in connection with shooting at Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School

Rev. Nelson said the onus is on all members of the community to help students cope and feel comfortable in school again.

“How do we create an environment where trust is established, where people feel safe, and are willing to step up to the plate to make the community safe?” he said. “How can we be responsible for the lives of one another?”

Dr. Shawn Foster, Orangeburg County School District Superintendent, said that when students do return on Monday, there will be enhanced security measures.

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