Kati Mansfield organizes candlelight vigil at FHC to honor the victims of Las Vegas

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Kati Mansfield organizes candlelight vigil at FHC to honor the victims of Las Vegas

A flame, a candle, a light, a life.

Last Wednesday, a candlelight vigil was held at the FHC Rock in honor of the victims of the Las Vegas shooting. Today, you can still see the candles and images in memoriam of all those involved in this tragic accident at the spirit rock. The vigil was organized and planned by senior Katianna Mansfield quickly after the event. Her passion for public displays of emotion has been a passion of hers since a young age.

Ever since childhood, Kati has been interested in speaking out for those who cannot speak for themselves. She would research topics for hours about civil justice and make sure she did everything in her power to make sure everyone around her was treated with fairness. Kati credits her sense of social service to her upbringing and her family.

She has always wanted to make the world a better place for not only herself but the people around her. Kati credits her little sister as a catalyst for the civil changes she has made. On top of her sister, her mom has always pushed her to make a difference.

“A lot of my life growing up, my mom taught me that the right thing is not to do nothing but to change something,” Kati said.

Kati has organized and gathered people many times during her time in high school to seek justice. She has organized protests with GLI, GSA, protests at the board of education meetings, and more recently, she planned the candlelight vigil in remembrance of the Las Vegas victims. All these events have been planned with effectiveness, and sometimes, Kati has organized events within hours.

“I’ve tried doing important things that have had an impact on people during all four years that I’ve been here,” Kati said. “It’s not something that I would hand off to someone else just because I want to do it, and it’s important to me.”

Following the tragedy in Las Vegas last Sunday, it seemed just natural for her to plan a vigil. After the idea came to her, Kati quickly went to work.

For the vigil, Kati planned to have the rock painted, have a candle lighting, and then have music from senior Caroline Whyte to honor the victims. After planning out the schedule, Kati gathered supplies with a sense of urgency.

“I put this together in less than 24 hours,” Kati said. “It’s really hard to do, but I’m willing to do it.”

Kati made sure the word got out to FHC students everywhere about the vigil being held. Advertisements were made on FX, here on TCT, social media, and in other places to let every student know they could be involved. Although it was so quickly planned and many students already had plans, Kati had hope for a good student turnout.

“In times of hardship, people will come together,” Kati said. “Regardless of what time it is, they’ll make time for it. It’s really nice to see all the people who are so busy most of the time coming together because they know that this is something that is important.”

The vigil itself was a beautiful event filled with compassion and remembrance of the many lives lost. Both senior Shawn Doran and Caroline Whyte, who were in attendance that night, credit the vigil to helping them gain a new perspective.

“I went to the vigil to make sure I wasn’t going to forget this event,” Shawn said. “I don’t want to move on with life so quickly after such a senseless and unfathomable tragedy.”

The participants at the vigil had a discussion about the tragedy to help gain empathy and further understanding of what happened.

“I hope that a couple people will take this back to their homes and show that they’ve gotten a little bit closer to the people they’re around because of it,” Kati said. “Maybe they’ll make some new friends or light a candle next to someone they don’t know, and they’ll realize that every single person around them has a life. If that was taken away, they would notice.”

Kati achieved her goal. Many of the participants said the event helped bring depth and brevity to an event that sometimes is easy to turn away from. The most powerful moment seemed to be the lighting of the candles itself. Each candle at the vigil represented a life lost, and it was a compelling moment.

When the sun set, and we were all helping each other light the candles and place them around the rock, it was a moment of pure togetherness,” Caroline said.

The vigil also held moments of despair and sorrow. With the increasing amount of gun violence in the United States, sometimes it is hard to not feel hopeless.

“I think that the other people there felt tired of the violence that is on the rise,” Shawn said. “There [may] be more mass shootings to come in the next few years. What stuck out the most in my mind was this hopelessness that [nothing can] be done. I feel like nothing is going to change.”

Despite the despair, the feeling of togetherness was overwhelming and stuck out to many students. The participants learned about how in times of hardship, you can lean on each other.

“The experience at the vigil was really loving,” Caroline said. “I felt a lot of unity [among] the students who were there and me. The people who were there wanted to be there to pay their respects for those who were harmed or killed by the tragedy, and they were truly passionate. I felt love for everyone.”

Without Kati, it’s hard to say if the shooting would have had a direct impact on FHC.

“Kati really brought us all together at that vigil,” Shawn said. “She made sure that everyone was able to say what they needed to about what happened.”

Although the events from Las Vegas are heartbreaking, Kati will forever recall that Wednesday night when she held and remembered the victims of the violence.

“I accomplished more than I thought I was going to,” Kati said. “It was one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had. I really loved getting to know the people who were around me and seeing that they were all coming together to support each other and everything that they possibly could have.”