Tune in to the NFL Network on November 29 at 8:20 pm (EST) and see more than just amazing catches and first downs, when the Dallas Cowboys take on the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night football. During one segment, witness the moment when Cowboys wide receiver Allen Hurns traveled to Saint Andrew’s School, partnered with Scots students Ethan Palmer ‘20, and filmed a moment he hopes will score a touchdown for the nationally relevant issue of school safety.
On any given day, Upper School Scots walk into the Dr. Albert Cohen Family Center for Entrepreneurial Studies to greet friends, go to class, or work on a collaborative project. While it’s common to see students, teachers, and parents walk through the Cohen Center, it was an extraordinary moment when NFL star Allen Hurns arrived on the scene.
On Saturday, October 27, student leaders from Marjory Stoneman Douglas partnered with Scots Ethan Palmer to welcome the Cowboys wide receiver to campus. While on campus, this professional athlete filmed a segment for the NFL Network about the topic of school safety that will air during the Cowboys vs. Saints game during week 13.
Saint Andrew’s students Ethan Palmer and Avery Stark were among many who were deeply affected by the events in Parkland. Their sadness and reflection turned quickly to action with their involvement in the national organization Make Our School Safe, which led to bringing the NFL Network to Saint Andrew’s School.
Only eight months ago, Ethan Palmer couldn’t have known how much he was affected by the tragic events of the Parkland shooting. But it was at the auditorium in the Cohen Center shortly following the shooting, when Ethan’s life was forever changed. As part of a campus presentation, Ethan heard Ryan and Mike Dietsch, survivors of the MSD shooting, make a daring and courageous presentation to the SA community about gun control.
“As I looked around the auditorium at fellow Scots and saw 50 or so in attendance, I knew that gun control and policy discussions were important and that many Scots shared my passion for these issues,” said Ethan. But something shifted in Ethan’s mind, and he felt that he could make an impact in a different way than Mark and Ryan.
Ethan Palmer ended up striking up a conversation with Ryan and Mike after the presentation. He thanked them for inspiring him and for their courage. After listening to what they had to say about gun violence, he saw how polarizing and partisan the issue of gun control was, and realized that there are different ways teens can take action without being politically driven.
He looked over at his friend and fellow Scot Avery Stark. She had just recently transferred from MSD and was also equally moved to take action. During her time at MSD and after, Avery was friends with Alyssa Alhadeff, one of the 17 lost on that February day.
With compassion in their hearts and a desire to make a difference, Ethan and Avery quickly became involved in an organization called Make Our Schools Safe (MOSS). “I called Alyssa’s mom to ask how SA could get involved in MOSS,” said Avery Stark, Co-President of the Make Our Schools Safe chapter at Saint Andrew’s. “Our involvement with Make Our School Safe was a natural fit for Saint Andrew’s school,” added Ethan Palmer, Co-President of MOSS at SA.
Soon after getting their start with MOSS, Ethan and Avery decided to put their Scots spark into the organization, and at the beginning of this school year, started a chapter of Make Our Schools Safe at Saint Andrew’s School with the help of Jason Glick, Director of Student Life.
The mission of MOSS is to improve the safety of schools, research and test best practices, as well as implement those protocols by creating model schools, beginning in South Florida and spreading nationwide. “What we do is influence small-scale initiatives in schools to make them safer in the event of life-threatening emergencies,” said Ethan.
Only eight months after the launch of MOSS, there are chapters all across South Florida, Pennsylvania, New York, and one starting in Washington D.C.
Ethan and Avery have further developed and cultivated personal relationships with members of the MSD chapter and with Lori Alhadeff, founder of MOSS, by attending bi-weekly meetings in Parkland.
Ethan and Avery are particularly proud of a recent fundraiser they initiated to support the MOSS mission. “A few weeks ago, I called Habit Burger Headquarters and asked them to sponsor us. They sent us 100 free coupons for charburgers,” he said. Ethan then empowered his peers to donate at least a dollar to the Make Our Schools Safe cause and get a coupon to Habit Burger. “People ended up donating a lot more, and we made $350 from that fundraiser,” he said.
The work that Make Our Schools Safe is doing is impressive, and it has started to gain some national attention. Make Our Schools Safe has been featured in Refinery29, a leading global media company focused on young women, and The Daily Voice. It's no wonder that NFL star, Allen Hurns heard about the great work it is doing for schools.
Allen Hurns grew up just outside of Miami, attended the University of Miami, and as an undrafted free agent, signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars. “Because he has such strong roots in South Florida and because he has personally experienced unsafe school settings, he wanted to work with local communities to promote school safety,” said Ethan. “Hurns got a wake-up call when he witnessed the school violence happening in Parkland, considered one of Florida’s ‘safest’ cities,” commented Ethan.
Lori Alhadeff called Ethan Palmer at the beginning of October to tell him about Hurns and the NFL. “She told me that Allen Hurns was interested in supporting Make Our Schools Safe and that he was going to paint his cleats to honor the victims of MSD and raise awareness for school safety. He said that Make Our Schools Safe was going to be featured on one of his cleats!”
Lori Alhadeff nominated Ethan Palmer as a leader of the Saint Andrew’s chapter of Make Our Schools Safe and Mark Susskind, the leader of the Parkland chapter, to speak with Allen Hurns in the T.V. segment for the NFL Network.
“Filming at SA was decided upon with help of NFL Network producers and Allen's agent. They wanted to find a school that stands with MSD to further inspire growth for other schools nationwide. Saint Andrew’s School was an amazing fit,” said Ethan.
“In the Cohen Center, Allen Hurns talked about hope which really inspired me. When you think about how broad an audience our message will reach with his help on the NFL Network, it makes me feel so grateful for his support,” said Ethan.
“Ethan has been remarkable as one of the leaders of our chapter of Make Our Schools Safe,” said Mr. Glick, Make Our School Safe SA Club Advisor. “He has been unrelenting in his commitment towards ensuring a secure environment not only for our school, which is fortunate to have the resources and personnel to enact best practice safety measures but for other schools around the country, as well.”
“During his interview with Allen Hurns, Ethan consistently and coherently espoused the need for MOSS strategies such as furnishing classrooms nationwide with “stop the bleed kits,” enacting the “red tape” initiative, and supporting Alyssa’s Law,” added Mr. Glick.
Lori Alhadeff, who lost her daughter, Alyssa, on February 14 at MSD, is the force behind the national Make Our Schools Safe organization, and she was on hand at the NFL Network filming to participate and to support the interviewees.
“As I watched Lori and Ethan interact during the interview, it was clear that Lori was proud of the work that Ethan is doing,” said Mr. Glick.
Lori Alhadeff has accepted an invitation to come to Saint Andrew’s later in the year to further her message in concert with SA’s MOSS chapter. Her inspiring work with Make Our School Safe is changing the world.
On Sunday, November 29, tune-in to see how Allen Hurns will change the world with a flash of his cleats.
And as for Ethan Palmer, Avery Stark, and others who have joined the cause of school safety - they too haven’t waited one single moment to be Scots who change the world, for good.