Parkland seeks peace on shooting anniversary
by Alyssa Jackson
Posted 2/14/19, 12:08 pm
In the year following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., families of the victims became active in politics, established nonprofit foundations, and lived every day missing a part of their lives. Seventeen people were killed in Parkland on Feb. 14, 2018, in the deadliest high school shooting in U.S. history. Shooting suspect and former student Nikolas Cruz remains in jail awaiting trial.
“We don’t need [the anniversary] to remind us what happened,” said businessman Andrew Pollack, whose 18-year-old daughter Meadow died in the attack. “We live with it every day.” Pollack met with President Donald Trump at the White House after the shooting and became an adviser to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his predecessor, Gov. Rick Scott, both Republicans. Other fathers, like Fred Guttenberg and Manuel Oliver, became active in Democratic politics.
Putting politics aside on Thursday, “we are going to simply reflect and remember,” said Tony Montalto, who lost his 14-year-old daughter in the shooting. He is president of the victims’ families organization Stand with Parkland.
At the high school, many students arrived on campus Thursday wearing burgundy #MSDStrong T-shirts, an emblem of the tragedy. Students could receive mental health counseling, massages, or manicures and visit with therapy dogs during the day. School officials are dismissing classes early to avoid having students on campus at the time the shooting began, around 2:20 p.m. EST. The school observed a moment of silence at 10:17 a.m. in honor of the 17 people slain.
Some students decided to dedicate community service to those who died. Alexis Grogan, a junior, will spend the day picking up beach trash: “I survived something and I don’t want to waste what I call a second chance at life because those who have passed don’t get that. We have to make a difference for them.”
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Alyssa is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute.