BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — What should have been a night of healing for the Buffalo community also turned into a night of reflection. Members of the Buffalo Public School district gathered at MLK park today to heal through art, and addressed Tuesday’s shooting in Texas.

School leaders say students are still fearful of going into public places, of going to school — and even more now with yet another mass shooting — this time at an elementary school in Texas. That’s what made today’s event so meaningful, because students wanted to gather with the community and express themselves.

“This is an opportunity to see these kids perform, their arts, music, dance poetry, in tribute to those who were lost tragically and not deserving of that,” BPS parent Robert Chapman said.

Students throughout BPS put together performances at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park to help the community, and themselves, heal from the racially motivated shooting that killed 10 people on Buffalo’s East Side.

“I do already know that many of our children in the Buffalo Public Schools have expressed fear already about large gatherings and things of that nature,” said Fatima Morrell, BPS associate superintendent for culturally and linguistically responsive initiative. “And they’re also very confused why a group of people would be targeted based on the color of their skin.”

“Just be able to come together as one and, you know, get that community feeling back together — because what happened in Buffalo wasn’t a Buffalo thing,” added recent high school grad Peyton Leftwich.

School leaders said for the Texas elementary school shooting to happen so quickly after the mass shooting in Buffalo, it is heartbreaking.

“I know we have our second amendment rights, but what are those rights when children are dying?” Morrell asked. “What are those rights when poor, innocent grandmothers are dying in a supermarket? We have to prioritize the future of our country, and our children especially. What are those rights when you can’t even go to school and come home?”

This thing with Texas, I think everyday when you wake up you worry about your children, with these events that are occurring on a regular basis,” Chapman said.

Parents and students who attended the BPS event said they want the community to remain brave.

“You can’t have fear everywhere you go,” Leftwich said. “Because you’re isolating yourself everywhere. It’s not helping the situation.”

“Believe in something higher than you,” Chapman said. “I’m a Christian, so I believe in God, but you gotta believe in the right things, and believe that people are good. And you can’t live — they win — if we live in fear.”

Leaders in BPS say they’ve been been working with students to help calm any fears and concerns after the May 14 shooting. News 4 learned the district is trying to figure out even more ways to keep students safe and comfortable inside the classroom.

Sarah Minkewicz is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.