“Parkland Strong” and “MSD Strong” signs can still be found all over the Florida town where 17 people were killed in a school shooting last year.
The attack on February 14, 2018, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, is the deadliest in a U.S high school.
The gunman killed 14 students and three adults. Seventeen other people were wounded.
Now, a year later, students, teachers, parents and community leaders continue to struggle with the horror it caused.
Angela Burrafato’s son graduated from Stoneman last year. She said a lot of angst and sadness remain because not much has changed in a year. People are divided about what to blame and how to prevent another violent attack.
The top police official in Broward County, Scott Israel, was recently suspended from his job. The new governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, said he ordered the suspension last month because of poor police operation during the attack. Israel is taking legal action to regain his job.
Some community members also are demanding the removal of Robert Runcie as leader of Broward County public schools.
Florida’s state government passed gun control laws shortly after the shooting. These included a rise in the age limit for legal purchase of guns and the establishment of a three-day waiting period.
Some argue the restrictions are not strong enough. Others think they are too restrictive. Last month, a state legislator proposed a measure that would cancel some of the laws.
Parkland is holding a series of events to mark the anniversary of the tragedy.
Therapy dogs will be at MSD high school on February 14, and the school day will end early. Students who decide not to attend classes that day will be excused. Those who come to school have been asked to volunteer for community service projects.
A vigil is planned to take place in the same park where thousands gathered the day after the shooting. Nearby, California-based artist David Best is building a wooden temple in honor of the victims. Visitors will be able to leave written remembrances of the victims at the site.
Free yoga training and beach cleanups are also being organized. A five-kilometer run honoring Stoneman sports director Chris Hixon is planned for February 16. He was shot and killed while running toward the gunfire to try to help the children.
Parkland Mayor Christine Hunschofsky said the anniversary is a painful reminder that all of the city suffered. But the volunteerism helps prevent the shooting from defining it, she said.
“We still have people helping each other, and that’s who Parkland was before this, and who it is today,” she said.
I’m Alice Bryant.
Zachary Fagenson reported this story for Reuters news agency. Alice Bryant adapted it for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.
Words in This Story
graduate – v. to earn a degree or diploma from a school, college, or university
angst – n. a strong feeling of being worried or nervous
therapy – n. the treatment of physical or mental illnesses
vigil – n. an event or a period of time when a person or group stays in a place and quietly waits or prays, especially at night
yoga – n. a system of exercises for mental and physical health