By Phillip Milano
It was a gathering to send love and comfort, born of a tragedy.
Students, faculty and staff of Jacksonville University came together outside Davis Student Commons to offer a moment of reflection Friday morning in the wake of Tuesday’s shooting of Episcopal High School Head of School Dale Regan.
“We don’t expect our schools to be places of tragedy, but of hopes and dreams,” Dean of Students Bryan Coker told the group of several dozen. “But we are here because of a tragedy just a few miles away … our thoughts and prayers are with them. We know there is a lot of love at that campus not far away.”
Participants were also encouraged to sign a banner with supportive messages that will be taken to Episcopal once students return.
Kristin Alberts, director of JU’s Student Counseling Center who helped provide grief counseling at Episcopal earlier this week, said such incidents provoke strong emotions.
“Our own students and faculty may be struggling with this as well,” she said. “We are here to help people cope, and we will be connecting with Episcopal to provide services for a while.”
Among the attendees Friday was JU basketball legend Artis Gilmore, who knew Regan through their mutual membership in the Rotary Club of Jacksonville.
“Everyone in that group, including Dale, is there to help the community and give back,” he said. “This is very sad, a great loss. Her contributions to the community and society will be sorely missed.”
JU Accounting Manager David LePage said he was shocked by the incident and moved by Friday’s observance.
“I work here. My wife works at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, so I want to show my support,” he said. “We are all involved in education.”