Forest High School: room where shooting took place transformed into 'refuge'

OCALA, Fla., (WCJB) -- A classroom at Forest High School that once served as a reflection of a tragic day when a shooting occurred, is now being seen in a different light.

Today - a room now known as "The Rock," the fifth of its kind at Marion County Schools, opened up at Forest High, completely changing the atmosphere of room 212, where a student was shot less than 4 months ago.

April 20th, a day all students attending forest will remember

"I could hear the sirens outside," said student Allison Williams, who was at Forest during the April shooting.

"Instantly when the code red happened there was just an instant shift in everyone's attitude, the room was very heavy," she said.

A former student had shot through the door of room 212.

Now, what students and faculty were calling "the room," has turned into "the Rock" -- a ministry based around giving to students to help them feel empowered.

"Students didn't exactly want to be in this area of the school as far as this classroom is concerned, and what we think will change by bringing the rock in, this is a place where students feel accepted, it sends a positive message, they feel relaxed and they feel blessed," said Principal Elizabeth Brown.

At the Rock, students can get clothing, food, school supplies, and even personal hygiene items...

Because the Rock's founder, Rondo Fernandez, says its hard for a kid to know they're loved when they're hungry and going without basic necessities...

"It just lets somebody know that they love them, the purpose is to give them a hope for the future by giving them power in the present," Fernandez said.

But above their physical needs, Fernandez says he wants to give help to their spiritual needs as well.

"Kids that have a little belief behind them can do incredible things," he continued. Fernandez believes that the Rock's proactive nature will change the future for students. "I gotta think that if this room were here last year that that wouldn't have happened."

The Rock - giving students a firm foundation...

"We are one, and we are accepting, and we are nurturing, and this is the place where that begins," Brown said.

...when they otherwise might have been standing on sinking sand.

The Rock is expanding to two more schools by the end of the year and Fernandez plans to go into every middle and high school in Marion County.