NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — A "United Night" and "Be the Light." Those were some of the messages from a local faith-based youth organization, Saturday night.
It might have seemed like the typical songs and worship filling the sanctuary at First Baptist Church Denbigh on Saturday. However, the prayer service was entirely led by students from the Peninsula.
The team behind it is called United 8 Collective, and 18-year-old Jaymorle Ingram leads the group.
"Coming together to bridge the gap and be united for at least one night or for the rest of the year," he said.
The team had already planned its first-ever "United Night," then Ingram learned of Heritage High School shooting that took place earlier this week.
"It completely shifted into, it needs to be more prayer," he said.
Two students were caught in the crossfire Monday.
Two were hurt in the rush to get out.
A fellow student is accused of pulling the trigger.
"We pray for students, we pray for our faculty, we pray for our teachers," said Ingram.
Newport News School Board Chair Douglas Brown attended the prayer service, too.
"This is exactly the kind of youth leadership that we want to foster and that we hope to build in our schools. It's great to see that in action," said Brown.
Brown also said that events like the one Ingram hosted play a big role in the healing process for everyone.
"A fresh spirit on everyone completely, going into the new school year, going into what is the rest of what is the school year," said Ingram.
He firmly believes in the youth's power to lead the way and make the change.
It's still unclear exactly when students and teachers will go back to in-person instruction at Heritage High. They remain in virtual instruction for the time being.
Brown told 13News Now the emotional support hotline set up for affected students and staff will continue next week.
Author's note: The file video below is from a student's account of the shooting at Heritage High School. It was published on September 21, 2021.