Love is stronger than hate

How three girls took a simple English project to the walls of BHS


The collage mural that is in room 1102, for everyone to see

Vivian Lee, Author

On October 27, 2018, a man of the name Robert D. Bowers opened fire inside of a Pittsburg Jewish synagogue, killing 11 congregants and wounding six others. He was armed with an AR-15-style assault rifle, and at least three handguns. The shooter came in shouting anti-Semitic slurs, while the Tree of Life Congregation had gathered to worship and celebrate. The massacre was described as among the deadliest against the Jewish community in the United States. After the devastating shooting had circulated all across the country, three tenth grade girls from Battlefield High School, thought of a way to remember the innocent victims in their own school.

Days after the incident, a Battlefield English teacher by the name of Julie Graves spoke out to her period 5 Pre-Ap English 10 class, regarding what had happened. The class had been reading Night by Elie Wiesel, a memoir written by a Holocaust survivor. The synagogue shooting hit close to home for  the English class, as they had been reading about the hardships the Jews had to face in the concentration camps. The English class had been working on their Night projects, creating memorials, children books, and movie trailers. Mrs. Graves told the class that if they wanted to do anything more with their projects to remember the victims of the rampage, they could be given an extension. Three girls by the names of Emma Maclean, Olivia Mitchell, and Vivian Lee had been working on a poster for their project, until they were inspired by their teacher’s words to take it one step farther.

Emma had brought the idea to the group. It was to make a picture collage mural, with students and staff of BHS(Battlefield High School) holding up hearts, spelling out the word “Love is stronger than hate.” Olivia and Vivian gladly hopped onto the idea, and they notified Mrs. Graves, who loved the proposal. From there the three girls starting asking around the school for pictures and collected over 200 in the span of two weeks. Olivia Mitchell, a member of the project group, shares “What I like about it, is that it is so diverse and everyone looks so beautifully different. We love that! We love diversity. Just look how beautiful every single one of these smiles are.” Many people had asked what the pictures were for, but the three girls had kept it a secret for the big reveal.

They then cleared Mrs. Graves’s wall, planned where each picture would go, and printed them all out. The girls stayed after school one afternoon, and hung up all the pictures. Mrs. Graves also stayed with the students, helping out in any way possible. The English teacher shared, “It is through acts of kindness and love that create a ripple effect and can help unite us. Your generation, full of advocates and activists, will change the world. It is not going to be easy, but it is through small acts like this that will cause big changes.”  Mrs. Graves says that she is very proud of the three girls for what they did, and was honored to have a part in their project. The next school day, students and staff piled in, wanting to take a look at their heartwarming mural.

The three sophomores share that there were two purposes for the English project. First, to remember and honor those who were killed in the synagogue shooting. They wanted to make sure the victims would not be forgotten and lost. Secondly, the girls made the collage to share that love is truly stronger than hate. This explaining that, even though there is so much hatred in this world, it can be overpowered by people sharing their positive outlook with the world. Emma Maclean, another member of the group, shares “Now it is a thing that everyone can see, to promote well being, happiness, and love.” Emma says that anyone is welcome to come see the mural, for they might even be featured in it! The mural is in Mrs. Graves’s classroom, room 1102.