Memorial outside Burr Ridge middle school honors victims killed in Nashville

It is a simple statement with a powerful message.

Empty desks were placed in front of a suburban Chicago school this week to honor the victims of a Christian school attack in Nashville.

Outside Pleasantdale Middle School in Burr Ridge, the memorial represents the six individuals killed at The Covenant School soon after classes began Monday morning.

Next to those desks, the school's sign displays a message: "It has to stop!" The victims’ names and ages are also listed. Three children and three employees did not make it home that day.

It’s a somber reminder of the tragedy that plagues our nation’s schools all too often.

"This is a powerful visual. I think if schools across the country were doing something like this, it would enhance the conversation. It would get people talking. We have a platform and we should use it," said Superintendent Dave Palzet of Pleasantdale School District 107.


Supt. Palzet said he hopes this leads to necessary conversations, and more importantly, change.

"When these types of events happen, they hit home, they hit hard," said Palzet.

It is not the first time Supt. Palzet has placed empty desks outside the middle school.

Last year, after a gunman took 21 lives at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, a similar display sent a poignant message.

"It’s a chilling memorial but I think it’s one that is necessary and needed, and one that really helps to get the conversation going within the community," said Mary Lenzen, parent, Pleasantdale Elementary School.

Lenzen has three children; two of them attend Pleasantdale Elementary School.

Like so many other parents, Lenzen says Monday’s shooting was hard to fathom.

"Shocked, angry, upset, trying to think of how we can be proactive as parents," said Lenzen.

Lenzen says she appreciates the memorial and the actions the district is taking to keep their children safe.

"As a district, every time one of these situations happens, we look at the specific events of that situation, and we say, ‘What if it happened here? What can we do to strengthen our security?’" And we do a full review, not only every time it happens, but in between," said Palzet.

The superintendent says they are constantly updating their own school safety plan, which includes keeping doors locked, requiring visitors to get buzzed in, and providing every teacher with a panic button that calls 9-1-1 directly.