The construction of a memorial garden honoring the victims of the 2018 shooting underway on campus


Kelly Cooke

The semi-circle stand which will hold the plaques of remembrance.

Vincent Ciullo, Writer

Experiencing an unforeseeable tragedy is heartbreaking. Honoring and remembering individuals who have been lost is something the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School community knows all too well. After many hopes for a private memorial space to remember the 17 victims of the Feb. 14, 2018 tragedy, a special place for MSD staff and students to visit is now underway.

“A group of staff members and families of the victims came together to develop the memorial, and the district will ensure the maintenance of this garden,” Principal Michelle Kefford said. “The memorial will not be open to the general public, as it is on campus.”

The construction of a remembrance garden on campus was proposed when MSD staff members and families of those lost came together to form a committee. A professional company began construction on the garden over the weekend of Dec. 11, and the garden is expected to be completed in early February.

“The idea for the memorial started last year when some of the families of those lost were upset that there was nothing on or in the new 1500 building that was dedicated to their loved ones. We tried to find a balance between what the families were asking for and what we felt was best for the teachers and students that are here on campus,” English teacher and Newspaper advisor Melissa Falkowski said. “Our mission as a school is still to educate people and also to remember the history of the school, but to do it in a way that is both respectful and appropriate.”

Although many students were not aware of the memorial, many conveyed a positive reaction when hearing about the idea of the garden.

“I think that it is a good idea to put in a memorial garden for staff and students,” freshman Heidi Dumke said. “It is a good way to remember loved ones.”

Other students, upon learning of the project, expressed interest in participating in the creation of the garden.

“I think it’s a lovely idea. The people who lost their lives need to be honored in the actual school to remind students and staff that these things happen to even the smallest of communities,” freshman Sophie Kusuma said.

The garden will be constructed between the main gym and the 700 building, replacing the space of benches and greenery with a memorial for the victims. A reimagined version of the existing garden will be constructed, with a semi-circle platform which will hold plaques for each of the students and staff lost.

“I feel that the garden is going to be a beautiful way to remember the 17 that were tragically lost. By having the garden on campus for students and staff to have a place to go to remember them, it will be a very peaceful and loving garden for one to reflect on,” Lori Alhadeff, mother of Alyssa Alhadeff, said.

After nearly four years since the tragedy, many changes have occurred throughout the community. From protests to plants, there is finally a place on campus to remember the ones lost on Feb. 14.