When the school in Weikersheim decided to host a Journey of Hope event, the school also knew that with this they had a chance to offer something very valuable to their students: Only very rarely a German school manages to get speakers from the US to speak to their students, only very rarely any school gets the change to have people who know about the death penalty from their own experience to talk in front to their students...
So the school decided that since they had have this chance, they would also make sure that their students would benefit from the event as much as anyhow possible.
Weeks before the event a group consisting of students and teachers was formed to prepare it. And the week before the JOH speakers came, was declared a "Project week" about the death penalty. They had polls in the school and asked the students if they would support the death penalty or not. During this week, teachers would talk about the death penalty in their lessons (in diffent subjects). Information and statistics about the death penalty was exhibited all over the school. And the day before the event, there were short plays about the death penalty all over the school during the breaks.
A display introducing the speakers and giving a short overview about their stories.
One of the exhibits. It asks: "What would you decide for?" and gives some information about diffent ways of executing people.
The group preparing the event had made a net and on this net they asked "Thinking about the death penalty, what is the first words which comes to your mind?" All of the students of the school were allowed to write a piece of paper with this first word which came to their mind and put it on the net.
One of the participants of this group told me after the event that it was interesting to watch how much respect the students showed towards this net and to read everything standing on the small pieces of paper on there.
The answers to this question "Thinking about the death penalty, what is the first words which comes to your mind?" did not include "deterrant" or "justice" but there were words like:
Electric chair, poison, guillotine, gallows, decapitation
Insolence, very evil punishment
Power, playing God
China, Iran, USA
Saddam Hussein, Bin Laden, Bush, Hitler
At one place in the school they had also put the outlines of a death row cell on the floor.
The actual event: Ray speaking in front of about 250 students
After the event: Students waiting to sign petitions
We had every petition laying out about 5 times but it still took about half an hour until the last student who wanted to sign had done this.