Oxford Strong: Community comes together to honor students 1 year later

‘The community has been stronger because everybody’s trying to pull together’

OXFORD, Mich. – A recently-painted mural is comforting, honoring the victims of the tragic Oxford High School Shooting one year later.

Sadly, it can’t cover the scars left behind from that devastating day, Nov. 30, 2021.

“Time doesn’t heal all wounds but helps us move on to find the perspective that will extract the positivity from any situation,” said Patrick Hingst. “Even the ones that feel most awful on the surface.”

Community members and business owners like Hingst and Caroline McLean are saying it’s heading in the right direction.

“The community, I think, has been stronger because everybody’s trying to pull together and still heal from this terrible situation,” said McLean. “It’s been a good thing, though.”

Some of the original blue and yellow ribbons remain intact, while others have been taken down in hopes of moving the city forward. Pray for Oxford signs, however, remain everywhere, not to mention the new mural once said on the side of the sisters’ salon.

“I love the fact that there’s a dove on it representing new birth and coming out of it,” McLean said. “But they also symbolize people passing away in honor of all them.”

It’s slightly the same at Woodchips BBQ. The company raised thousands of dollars for the victims’ families a year ago.

“The way it’s been able to come together has been really inspiring,” Hingst said. “So, even the deepest of tragedies, there’s still that light that you can pull out of it. We’ve seen some of the best come out of people, and that’s really the thing.”

There’s at least a sense that justice is beyond served with the school shooter behind bars. However, the sad reality is that things will never be the same for others.

“I’m sure we will have that point where we can move forward,” McLean said. “But as things go on in other communities where these things happen, I don’t think we’ll ever get past it. It’s such a deep wound that I don’t think that it can be completely healed. But the best thing is that you can just come through it and become better because of it and try to make sure these things never happen again.”

The same places where students gathered to pay their respects will always be a reminder of the strength in numbers, along with how a community came together and made it through the worst, with the support from others.

“The events downtown are much more heavily trafficked. There’s a lot more connection with our sister city, Lake Orion,” Hingst said.

The cold November sky, gray, once again resembles the dark cloud hanging over the area. But, like always, brighter days are ahead.

“Every day is a new chance for us to bring that brightness into the world,” McLean said.

“We’re becoming a better community,” Hingst said. “That’s all I can really say. It’s becoming a stronger community.”

About the Authors:

Victor Williams joined Local 4 News in October of 2019 after working for WOIO in Cleveland, OH, WLOX News in Biloxi, MS, and WBBJ in Jackson, TN. Victor developed a love for journalism after realizing he was a great speaker and writer at an early age.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.