By Linda Kor
The death of humanitarian Kayla Mueller has resounded throughout the nation and has added to the sorrow for the lives lost at the hands of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). Mueller’s death hit Arizonans especially hard, as she was raised in Prescott and attended Northern Arizona University.
Mueller was an avid American rights activist and humanitarian aide worker, who was taken captive in August 2013 as she was leaving a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Syria. She was held captive for 18 months by ISIS before being killed on Feb. 6.
Students at Holbrook High School have started a movement on campus to honor Mueller and pay tribute to her work serving others. Students in Faith Caffey’s senior advanced placement class are working with art students, and have created buttons that show an owl, what the students called Mueller’s “spirit animal,” and the words “I will never give up, I will always be strong.” They are distributing the buttons to students and teachers. They have created a video, are planning murals for the campus and, most importantly, are doing acts of kindness for their fellow students.
“Her words are very powerful to us and we want to show that they won’t be forgotten,” said Buddy Wagoner. “She was inspirational.”
Strewn across a table in Caffey’s classroom are small square sheets of paper with an owl and the words “Be Kind” printed on them. As the students talk of Mueller and her commitment to serve others, they sign their names to the papers with plans to distribute them around the campus.
When asked why the students felt so strongly about this project, Kaitlyn Benally commented, “We felt connected since she grew up so close to us and attended NAU, which is just down the road. We want to make sure that her family knows that we won’t forget her, that she had meaning for us.”
“When we watch the news, we’re watching suffering from a distance. We see events happen and think how awful they are, but can’t do anything. We couldn’t save Kayla, but we want her memory to live on,” Buddy added.
Caffey elaborated further, stating, “It comes down to her commitment to kindness. There are things we can do every day. The students here feel a great compassion for Kayla’s family and want them to know she’s going to be remembered. As seniors who will be leaving their families and stepping out into adulthood, they wanted to do so by perpetuating this idea of kindness, or as our principal Mr. Phaturos tells us every day, ‘Be good to one another.’ This is important to these students, these are really a beautiful group of seniors.”
The students hope to start the murals later in the week with the hope that it will inspire other students to seek to emulate Mueller, who chose to be kind and serve others. The video can be viewed by going to Google and entering Kayla Mueller Kindness Video or using the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWT82F8PQp8.