Prayer vigil promotes healing following shooting at Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School

Published: Aug. 23, 2021 at 6:46 AM EDT
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ORANGEBURG, S.C. (WIS) - Orangeburg church leaders joined with Orangeburg Wilkinson High School administrators to host a prayer vigil Sunday evening ahead of the first day back to school for students since the campus was closed following a shooting Wednesday afternoon.

Faith leaders offered support for students and staff of the school as many may be anxious to come back.

“They’re going to be comforted knowing that the pastors – the shepherds in the community – have come alongside to help ease some of their pain, and then let them know that there’s healing,” said Don Oliver, Pastor of Edisto Drive Church of God.

Ken Nelson, Orangeburg Superintendent of the United Methodist Conference, says the message is unity.

“One in partnership, in mission, in ministry, and mission,” said Nelson.

Orangeburg Wilkinson is adding more security measures that will last the rest of the year. Some precautions include students walking through metal detectors to enter the school, an adjusted bell schedule to limit large gatherings during drop-off and pickup, and a clear backpack policy with clear bags provided by the school.

The clear bag requirement starts Tuesday and all athletic or personal bags that are not clear will be searched. The safety precautions will last for the rest of the 2021-2022 school year.

Orangeburg County Schools Superintendent Dr. Shawn Foster and Orangeburg Wilkinson Principal Rahim El-Amin commend the students and faculty for their quick response during the shooting crisis and want to keep the school safe and welcoming for everyone.

“Sustainability is what I’m looking for,” said Foster.

Starting Monday and through most of the first week back, extra law enforcement personnel and church leaders will be at the school to greet students.

“Making sure that when our students return tomorrow, that they’re going to come into this building with open arms,” said El-Amin. “That’s what it’s all about.”

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