MSD STRONG, NEWS, OUR STORY — February 19, 2018 at 6:35 am

MSD mourns the loss of students and teachers at candlelight vigil

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*Story is co-written by Nikhita Nookala and Christy Ma*

Thousands of people from the community came to pay their respects to the 17 killed in the MSD shooting, along with the families affected. Photo by Delaney Tarr

After the tragic events of Feb. 14, students spread the word through social media that there would be a candlelight vigil held at 2:30 p.m. in Pine Trails Park. Traffic on major Parkland roads such as Holmberg Road and Coral Ridge Drive was completely backed up, causing many to spend over 45 minutes on what used to be an uneventful 10 minute drive.

Starting from 2 p.m., the parking lot was completely filled as students reunited with each other, some for the first time since the shooting. Some students, like College Academy senior Remi Work, who has not attended MSD in two years, came anyway to support their friends.

“[I came] because I was a Douglas student and I knew many of the victims,” Work said. “Calling my mom 30 times after passing Douglas on the highway thinking she was dead was the scariest moment of my life. Even if I wasn’t as personally affected, everyone should try to be there for the people that were.”

Organizers from the Red Cross passed out blankets and Mickey Mouse plush dolls to students. On the stage, 17 angel

The City of Parkland provided candles for every attendee at the 6 p.m. vigil on Feb. 15, just a day after the MSD shooting. Photo by Delaney Tarr

figurines were set up to honor each of the victims. The space in front of the amphitheater was also dotted with crosses for each victim.

The City of Parkland sponsored the official sunset vigil at 6 p.m. on Thursday. Speakers from the community as well as religious leaders from various groups were present. Speakers included Parkland Mayor Christine Hunschofsky, City Commissioner Ken Cutler, Sheriff Scott Israel and Fred Guttenberg, the father of freshman Jaime Guttenberg, who passed away on Feb. 14.

The city provided candles for attendees to light during the vigil in order to spread brightness into a field of darkness, symbolic of the community’s unity and light in the midst of trials and tribulations. The community raised their candles at the end of speeches, in remembrance of the 17 victims.

Students, teachers and families alike came to the sunset vigil to remember those directly affected by the shooting. Photo by Delaney Tarr

Media choppers continued to hover over the park, making some of the speeches inaudible. Media presence at the event all day was overwhelming, with some students reporting that they had even been approached for interviews or quotes.

“I think the media is doing a good job on taking the appropriate steps to being insensitive,” senior Daniel Williams said. “But there are multiple instances where journalists are writing things that are exaggerated or just straight up false, which makes us students mad.”

As speeches continued to come from the amphitheater, the cries and messages of support coming from the crowd were interspersed with messages of gun violence. Some chanted “Arm the schools,” while the audience retaliated with “No more guns.” Students caught in between could do nothing but cry and hold on to friends and family.

The event concluded with hundreds of people trying to exit the park area, which resulted in an immense traffic jam. However, police and local law enforcement were vigilant and very present around the area, allowing the evening to go by without major incident.

Nikhita Nookala

Nikhita is a senior at Stoneman Douglas High School and can be found on campus participating in many club events. She hopes to pursue a career in internal medicine.

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10 Comments

  1. Young people should not be losing their lives. Parents should not be losing their children. I believe you are & will make a difference in this country. How can anyone who has a heart, not feel the pain & injustice you are all experiencing. God Bless all of you.

  2. My heart felt condolences to all the students who have suffered such terror and lost so many dear friends. At the same time I am inspired by your fight to overcome this travesty of justice. your courage to right this wrong, to powerfully confront our despicable “leaders” who do business with the NRA. You students fighting for your lives and mourning for your friends in the best way you know how–You do know how!!!and will not fall for the cheap dirty tricks of Trump and his gang or the Republican congress and their gang. You know!! keep up your fight!! there will be set backs, but do not despair. Many expect you to peter out and then return to the bosom of the NRA and their big bucks, Don’t! More than half the country is with you full heatedly I hold you and kiss you and will be following each one of you on your courageous fight for your lives.
    With undying support. Keep up your Fight. In the end you will win. No more military weapons. Close the loopholes. Let Students Be Students in a safe, stimulating educational environment. That is your student right in a Democracy!!!

  3. Shannon Thier

    There is so much I could write about this horrific tragedy but I wanted to suggest selling the song “Shine” on iTunes or Amazon to raise money. I can’t get it out of my head since CNN, and have watched the video over and over. It is so powerful and another way to raise money to fight the NRA. Do not stop the fight. Do not let this issue die after a few weeks of news. Keep fighting. You CAN make the difference that my generation didn’t.

    Broward was my home for many years and although I now live in California, my heart is with you, and anything I’m able to do to help your cause, you have my email. Please let me know how I can help from here.

    ~ Former Sunrise and Ft. Lauderdale resident, Shannon T.

  4. Ann Marie Perry

    Dear Students,
    I am 75 years old. 75 years sad.
    Your courage warms my heart.
    Your bravery gives me hope.
    Your spirit will carry you through.
    May God give you strength.

  5. Constance Winstead

    California here …. So proud of you kids. Keep up the work maybe you can change our gun culture. Love and peace Connie

  6. So Sad, I DID NOT KNOW ABOUT THE 15 WOUNDED…THE N.R. A. IS ON THE RUN!!!YOU GUYS ARE GONNA MAKE A DIFFERENCE!!! GOOD WILL TRIUMPH OVER EVIL!!! I’M 66 AND LIVE IN MAINE..KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK YOUR DOING..YOUR 17 FRIENDS SHOULD NEVER BE FORGOTTEN!!!

  7. Change is difficult. It’s ‘foreign and uncomfortable’…..at first. Change is necessary……
    In the late 1960’s this country went through a revolution. Three simultaneously in fact. The Vietnam War, Civil Rights, and Women’s Rights. This country was in turmoil unknown since the civil war. The ‘establishment’ wanted to keep the ‘status quo’. They were wrong then. They are wrong today. During that period of time, the event that stood out more than any other was Martin Luther King’s march(en masse) around the country and on Washington DC itself for ‘basic human rights’. He always preached change through non violent demonstrations. Today, you and your peers(the young generation of this country), have an opportunity that is unique in YOUR quest for ‘basic human rights’. You are facing situations today(that sadly, are becoming all too common) that were virtually unheard of in those days. Today your generation is more intelligent, and have a unique way of connecting and sharing information quickly through social media. It is wonderful to see students gathering together and demonstrating for the right to go to school in safety and demand better. Think of the message you could send to people in government(as King did), from the small town mayors to the Nations Capitol in Washington DC, by setting aside times when ALL students, AND parents, ‘march(en masse) on either their capitol city, or Washington DC itself. It would be a message sent LOUD and CLEAR, that would have a major impact on this country, and heard around the world. A ‘Strength in Numbers’ scenario is always necessary to affect change. The people in government today are the ones, like myself(senior citizens w/children, grandchildren), who in the next ten to twenty years, will be phased out through the natural selection of ‘evolution’. In that same ten to twenty year period, YOU will be running this country and making necessary decisions. Don’t take (can’t, no, won’t work, etc), from the ‘establishment’ as an answer. Demonstrate peacefully en masse, as Martin Luther King did. Remember, he NEVER stopped demonstrating for what he believed in. AND he was right. Now it’s YOUR opportunity. When movements go against the ‘status quo’ in government, politicians ‘weather the storm’, until things ‘die down’. Politicians have always believed(and I must admit their right), that heightened human emotions brought on by extreme events, subside over time. DON’T LET THAT HAPPEN TO YOUR CAUSE. Demonstrate en masse for YOUR ‘basic human rights’. Past history in this country has shown us all that your generation CAN accomplish YOUR goals for YOUR future. God Bless.

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