MARSHALL COUNTY, KY — Thursday will mark two years since the shooting at Marshall County High School. The community is preparing to share messages of hope and healing while honoring the victims of the shooting.
On Jan. 23, 2018, 15-year-old students Bailey Holt and Preston Cope were killed and more than a dozen others were injured in the shooting at the school. Two years later, members of the community continue to support each other, remembering the motto: Marshall Strong.
A Night of Hope and Healing ceremony will be held on the high school's campus Thursday for the community.
The ceremony will begin at 6 p.m. in the Marshall County High School Kenneth Shadowen Performing Arts Center. Attendees are to enter through the main entrance, which is on the same side of the building as the football stadium.
Marshall County Schools Superintendent Trent Lovett says those who attend the ceremony will have the opportunity to write prayers, names and notes on cards that will later be used to create a memorial collage. The event will also include special music, a short video created by the high school's Sources of Strength group about community activities that have helped with the healing process, and an introduction to the Marshall County Resiliency Center by Merryman House Executive Director Mary Foley. Pastor Richie Clendenen will speak, closing the event.
The group Facilitators of Community Unity and Support, or F.O.C.U.S., is hosting the ceremony.
"When we have our gathering of the community, we do want to validate the folks feelings. We want to validate the folks experiences, because they’re varied. But we also kind of want to — the one goal was to say...we were part of this community, we validate your experience, and we also want them to kind of turn their head. That’s why we called the night a Night of Hope and Healing, because that’s what we want to turn our heads to," Marshall County High School Recovery Coordinator Scott Terry says.
The Marshall County Resiliency Center, which will be officially announced Thursday, will centralize services needed in the community. Merryman House Domestic Crisis Center is founding the resiliency center, funded through grant money.
Terry says Sources of Strength and the Resiliency Center will be discussed during the Night of Hope and Healing "as a way to turn the community's focus toward what we’re doing as far as healing."
Earlier in the day Thursday, Marshall County High School HOSA students will host a #MarshallStrong community blood drive. "We would like to give the community an opportunity to give back as we mark the two-year passing of our school tragedy," the school's event page for the blood drive explains. The blood drive will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the school's auxiliary gym. The students have a goal of collecting 50 units of blood. To schedule an appointment online to give blood at the event, click here.
The Marshall County Public Library System is also honoring the victims of the shooting. "We will have LED candles on the circulation desks at all three branches in remembrance of not just those two lives lost, but the entire community and the impact that, that day had on us," Marshall County Public Library System Director Tammy Blackwell says.
The library plans to use federal grant funding to create a physical and digital archive including items of support, such as signs, cards, posters and more items that were donated after the shooting.
Blackwell says the library is still waiting on the nearly $29,000 grant to support the project. For more information about the archive, check out this story:
Thursday will mark two years since the deadly shooting at Marshall County High School. The community has built a strong support system since then, and the Marshall County Library System is doing its part.