Spartan Strong


The Rock in the front of the pool doors entrance displays the popular Spartan Strong logo, coined from the MSU tragedy.

“East Lansing thought that this was going to be a massacre,” said Emma Demarco. A former student at Groves and editor for The Scriptor, Demarco has recently been through the tragic shooting at Michigan State University. This event has impacted all of Michigan, especially Groves. Groves and MSU don’t just share the same school colors, they also share the same students. Every year a large portion of Groves graduating class make the journey to MSU for their next four years, so when the shooting was announced it hit close to home for many Groves students and faculty members.

The dorms on the news were no longer foreign, but instead where siblings and friends were housed. February 13th is a day that will have forever changed so many people’s lives. A tragic truth in today’s society is that many of us have been desensitized by the number of school shootings, and the MSU one has been a wake-up call for the Groves community. When the people sharing stories of a shooting are your sister across the dinner table, or your friend a year older who graduated, it’s a truth you don’t want to accept. But from such horrors, the MSU and Groves community stayed strong and supported one another.


No one wants to believe that they could be a part of a shooting until they are. One person’s decisions create an impact that will affect how you approach situations for the rest of your life, but when you have a community flourish like MSU did around their students and faculty members it makes the recovery process easier and less lonely. Burdened now with new a defining feature and constantly sharing their experiences of going through a shooting, a new strength has come out of every person who was apart of the shooting, and that’s when Spartan Strong slogan comes in.

“When I first got back it was a really supportive place to be, there were signs everywhere. People had Spartan Strong everywhere. A ton of businesses had Spartan Strong in their windows, it was all over their sidewalks…,” Demarco said.

It’s easy to feel alone in a traumatic experience like this, even when you have thousands of peers who share the same story. Spartan Strong has created a limelight toward East Lansing. Shirts have been made, bumper stickers are scattered across the state, and our own rock even displays the slogan.
When the shooting at MSU first occurred, everyone was confused and wanted to know what was going on. People at home who knew family members or friends who attended MSU were frantic to find out if their friends and family were okay. The main way Demarco was getting information, similar to many other students, was through a police scanner. However, it wasn’t always helpful as it might’ve seemed.
“I would say we were really scared, a lot of the hysteria came from the police scanner”, Demarco said.
Listening to the police scanner caused extra fear due to the false information presented. Hundreds of calls were coming in and not all of them gave reliable information. It so difficult to understand everything that was happening, and differentiate rumors from facts.
However, Demarco believes MSU did everything they could to control the situation, and handle a crisis no one wants to ever believe they’ll have to go through. Many were upset with how long the police took to find the shooter but, Demarco feels differently.
“I feel like people don’t understand there were calls coming from all over campus and they(the police) were going everywhere they got a call from. So, it wasn’t the police’s fault they couldn’t find him(the shooter) because they were getting thrown around all of East Lansing with 911 calls,” Demarco said.
While Demarco was keeping herself safe, she was also burdened with quesions of her friends and peers safety. Already stressed about the situation she was going through, Demarco quickly found out one of Demarco’s friends was at the Union, a confirmed place where shots had been fired, at the time of the shooting. Demarco took to Snapchat’s Snap Map feature to track her friends location as a last resort.
“So, then an hour goes by and when I check again it still says “an hour ago at the union” so I started to panic, and I text her and she doesn’t respond,” Demarco said.
Thoughts ran through her head thinking she might’ve been shot. Thankfully, Demarco got a hold of one of her friends who comfirmed she was alive and well. Stories similar to Demarco’s were happening all across the state that night, questions circled people’s minds.
Many families at home, including Lilianne Kowalchuk’s, counselor here at Groves, were nervous about their children and loved ones in East Lansing.
“I called my daughter immediately,” Kowalchuk said.
Even though Kowalchuk was able to reach her daughter, she knew as much as her daughter did at the time, making it hard to know what was going on and causing a lot of confusion.
For weeks after the MSU shooting, students came together as a community to help each other get through such a tough time. The students grieved the loss of their peers and were grappling with how to move on from such a traumatic event.
“It was a very strange atmosphere of a bunch of students who weren’t really sure what to do now,” Demarco said.
Along with students supporting each other, professors also were considerate of their students and helped them through whatever they needed. Many professors gave extensions.
“I also got really big extensions like for my criminal justice class I had and an in-person exam that week and also that night, right before the shooting,” Demarco said.
Spartan Strong is an example of how a community can come together. Although these events were tragic, they prove that when faced with adversity the Groves and MSU community will stay strong.