To Parkland from T-D with Love

By: Mila Mabhongo, Staff Reporter

On the afternoon of February 14, 2018, a 19 year-old ex-student walked onto the grounds of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, committed one of the world’s deadliest school massacres. He opened fire on students and faculty, killing 17 people and sending 14 more to the hospital with critical injuries.

The responses and aftermath of the shooting were very significant, as people from all walks of life stepped in and offered their prayers and condolences to the people who had died that afternoon. An event as catastrophic as this makes it very hard for people to ignore the fact that this is one of many school shootings we have had in the United States. According to CNNU.S. Crime, there have been over 17 school shootings in the United States since the beginning of 2018.

On the day of the shooting, President Donald Drumpf tweeted, “My prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting. No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school,” with more tweets and replies following his response to the event.

This recent tragedy was most definitely not the first school shooting the people of the United States have endured. It appears as if the general cycle for a school shooting follows a set pattern: it happens, people offer their prayers and condolences, gun laws are discussed for a brief amount of time, and then the world forgets about it until the next shooting. However, many believe that this attack is significantly different from other shootings the nation has gone through. Our youth, teenagers from Florida and across the country, are standing up with protests and walkouts. They’re trying to capture the attention of our government and the rest of the country, hoping to force them to pay attention to the affects of our current gun laws.

One of the main points people must realize regarding catastrophic events like this is the lack of awareness. We read articles about the victims of school shootings describing what actually happened at the moment, whether it be a detailed explanation of the shooting or a general account of what happened from someone who actually experienced it; however, people can only imagine what others are going through when these things happen. It’s one thing for people to hear about someone walking into a school gymnasium and opening fire, yet, another for them to be within the crossfire and see it with their own eyes. Today, social media is a leading way to not only get information, but to act as an outlet for people, to inform the world the reality of what happens every single day. It opens up doors and gives the world a new perspective on the thoughts and actions of teens.

After the shooting in Parkland, Florida, people, specifically students, took advantage of our social media outlets to shine a horrific, yet truthful light on the shooting. Snapchat videos taken by students at the scene have been circulating Twitter and Instagram for days after the shooting. Videos show students hiding underneath tables, the sounds of guns and the screams of the terrified victims alongside them.

Due to events like these, students everywhere question the safety and security of their school grounds. Brianna Henry ‘19 observed that “as teenagers in school, I believe that as much as we hate waking up and going to school early in the morning, as much as we may not like our teachers sometimes, and as many times as we just don’t feel like we want to be here, we do have a sense of safety at [Thornton-Donovan School]. This safety comes from being with friends, and even though we sometimes don’t like our teachers, we know that they are there in case anything happens.”

Henry was honest, however, about the effect these reoccurring school shootings have on her and kids in general. “With these school shootings,” she said, “the school itself, the place where we feel safe, is no longer safe to those students. It is no longer a place of working and good times with friends and beautiful memories.”

Cecile McIntosh ‘18 commented on how commonplace school shootings have become, saying, “Personally, I feel like the repetitive school shootings have caused a sense of fear throughout teenagers. It broke my heart that a young girl asked her parents for different sneakers because they lit up and a shooter would be able to find her faster.”

McIntosh, though, tried to see a shred of good that could come from this unfathomable and truly tragic event. “Throughout all this pain and heartbreak, this has united teenagers around the country to stand up for change.”

As disturbing as the videos of shootings may be, it is important for people to see and hear the victims. This will make a remarkable difference in how we, as a country and as its youth, handle these situations so that they do not happen again in the future.