Stoneman Douglas: An Update


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PARKLAND, FL – FEBRUARY 28: Broward County Sheriff officers welcome students as they arrive at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as students arrive to attend classes for the first time since the shooting that killed 17 people on February 14 at the school on February 28, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Police arrested 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz for the 17 murders. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Ryan Mcguire, Assistant Editor

Last week, the students and teachers making up Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School hugged and cried as they returned back to the same hallways they were escorted out of in single file lines exactly 2 weeks prior.  This is the first time the school has held classes since the horrific incident rattled South Florida to its core, while at the same time placing it at the center of a heated national debate.  Although many students have become outspoken activists, pushing for gun law reforms and policy change, last week was the first time since their 17 peers were killed that the entire school has reunited.

The Sunday before classes resumed, students and parents were able to attend an orientation at Stoneman Douglas.  This being the first time the students reentered the place that changed their lives, it was quite an emotional service.  Students reunited with teachers  they hadn’t seen since that tragic days, and friends met up for the first time as well.  Junior Emily Patel said “I can’t imagine ever returning to a complete level of normalcy after going through something like that.  Although the school is acknowledging how much things have changed, which is good, it can’t compensate for the psychological toll going back to school is going to have on some kids.”

On their way in, students were accompanied by not only hundreds of police officers but around 150 grief counselors, offering emotional support alongside the many comfort animals that were brought in that day (including dogs and even a horse).  The Stoneman Douglas principal stated that the school’s return would be primarily focused on “emotional readiness and comfort, not curriculum”, as he ordered every student to leave their back packs at home on the day classes resumed.  In every classroom there were stress relief items available, including stress-balls and coloring books, to help the students gradually transition back into their school year routine.

Although the shots rang out far beyond the school halls, the building where the shooting actually took place is still closed off and classes previously held there have been relocated.  There has been talk of tearing down the building altogether; some of the public argue this costly endeavor won’t be worth it and would rather make use of the building as a stepping stone to overcoming their grief.  On the contrary, others favor to tearing down the building in hope that their grief will be torn down with it.  Junior Rashelle Toro said “I see both sides when it comes to that building.  I mean, if I were a student or teacher there I wouldn’t want to look at it every day as a constant reminder of what I went through.  But, it kind of depends on the way you look at things because you can look at that same building and see it as something you’ve overcome, therefore reminding you of your strength.”

Overall, I think we can commend Stoneman Douglas on their strength.  Never before has there been a group of greater resilience, persistence, and determinism.  The students and teachers of the Parkland Shooting have truly made history in their response to the violence, making way for a new generation of leaders to take on national policy.  We stand behind you, Stoneman Douglas, as you open your doors again and help pave the way for the courageous.