Remembering the Parkland Massacre

Two years after the Parkland School Shooting, students remember how the so-called Valentine's Day Massacre affected them.

Nicholas+Cruz+opened+fire+in+Florida%2C+killing+17+people+on+Feb.+14%2C+2018.
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Remembering the Parkland Massacre

Nicholas Cruz opened fire in Florida, killing 17 people on Feb. 14, 2018.

Nicholas Cruz opened fire in Florida, killing 17 people on Feb. 14, 2018.

PHOTO ILLUSTRATION | MHAR TENORIO

Nicholas Cruz opened fire in Florida, killing 17 people on Feb. 14, 2018.

PHOTO ILLUSTRATION | MHAR TENORIO

PHOTO ILLUSTRATION | MHAR TENORIO

Nicholas Cruz opened fire in Florida, killing 17 people on Feb. 14, 2018.

RAFID ALAM: “The American Way”

It was a bright morning, with the sunlight entering my room through my window and waking me up. The sun was shining over the whole San Fernando Valley. There were cars honking and driving. Parents were taking their children to school. 

I brushed my teeth and washed my face. I put on my navy blue polo shirt, my black pants, and my white socks. I was ready to head to school. 

The date was February 14, 2018. It was your average Wednesday and I wasn’t expecting anything special to happen. I was expecting it to be like everyday where I go to school, get bored to death, and then waiting throughout the whole day to go back home. 

I got in my dad’s car and he was gonna taking me to the bus stop. He asked me the same question he asks everyday, “Do you have any tests today?” I gave him the same, usual reply, “No, not today.” 

My dad dropped me off at the bus stop and I saw my friend, David. We got on the bus together and my friend started playing Fortnite, while I watched.

Life was good. David and I got off the bus and went to the area where our group of friends always hangs out. We talked and laughed until the bell rang. After the bell rang, we all headed to homeroom.

The bell rang and Edgar, my other friend, Nico, and I headed to English class. We did our work in English class and I was trying so hard not to fall asleep. The period felt like it was five hours long. I was waiting for so long to get out of that boring class. Finally, after what felt like such a long period, the bell rang. I was so relieved to get out of that class. 

In math class, we took notes and solved problems. In PE class, we were playing soccer and my team actually won! My fourth period was forensic science—boring because we were learning the names of our bones. I couldn’t wait to get out of that class so I could eat lunch. 

Lunch was the best part of the day. I was ready to finish two more periods and then go home. I was expecting nothing to ruin my mood. When I sat down in my History class, my teacher told us some really bad news.

“There was a school shooting in Parkland, Florida.”

A lone gunman killed 17 students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. It was one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history. The shooter was a former student. 

“Do not be scared to come to school,” my teacher reassured us. “During a school shooting, this classroom is actually a very safe place to be in because it used to be a computer lab. There is no doorknob outside of the classroom, just a keyhole. The door is also really thick, which is going to make it tough to get in,” he explained. I think that made everyone a lot more comfortable. 

As I sat in my seat, I thought about the families of the victims. It really ruined my mood. It was the only thing I could think about. In science class, my teacher also discusses the shooting. I just wanted to go home and forget about all of this. 

No parent ever thinks twice before sending their children to school. No one expects anything bad to happen because who in their right mind would ever want to kill students trying to get an education. They’re trying to make it somewhere in life.

As David and I rode the bus I sat there looking out the window, thinking about what I would do if there was a shooting while I was in class. I became absolutely terrified after that, so I started talking to David about other things. 

The bus arrived at my stop and I got in my mom’s car. “Did you hear about the shooting in Florida?” she asks. At that point I was so tired of everyone mentioning the shootings so I told her, “Yes, I heard about it, but let’s please not talk about it. It makes me upset.” 

After we got home, I went on Instagram, where all I saw were posts of people talking about the shooting in Florida. There were videos of the sounds of the gunshots. There were videos of the students exiting the school with their hands on their heads. There were videos of the families of the victims wailing and mourning for their murdered children.

The posts were all written by teenagers. One thing that surprised me is that they had one thread: the government should make stricter gun laws. Teenagers from different backgrounds and with different skin colors wanted to come together to fight gun violence. 

I was completely amazed. Instead of being upset, I felt proud of the generation I am a part of.

At school the next day, I was proud of my friends because I’ve never seen them so upset. They cared about people they don’t even know about.

Over the next few weeks, there were more and posts about gun violence by angry teens.  Exactly one month after the shooting there was going to be a nationwide protest where kids from all over the country would walk out of class to honor the Parkland victims.

On the day of the walkout my math teacher told us “it’s completely your choice. If you support it, you can go out and participate. If you don’t feel like you belong there, you are welcome to stay in the classroom.” 

I asked my friend Edgar if he was going.

“No, I support that stuff, but I don’t feel like I would make a difference being there,” he said. “It’s better to not waste my time and just do my math homework. I still support it though.” 

I was thinking the same thing. “Let’s just stay in class and do our math homework,” I replied.

At 10 a.m. came an announcement by the principal. “It is now time for the walkout. If you want to participate, wait to be dismissed by your teacher. If you do not wish to participate, you are able to stay in a class with a teacher.”

Three-fourths of my class left. A few of my other friends and I stayed and did our math homework together. 

After the walkout was over, I saw David, who had participated. “Where there a lot of people?” I asked. “What was it like?”

“There were a ton of people,” he answered. “They talked about how the government needs to fix gun control by passing stricter laws. There were pictures of all the victims of the shooting.”

Even though I didn’t participate, I went home proud that day. Posts on Instagram from different states and cities showed huge crowds of teenagers united and fighting for one cause. Teenagers all with different ethnicities and backgrounds. Teenagers that have different skin tones. Teenagers that practice different religions. 

People of my generation, no matter what they look like, will come together during terrible situations. My generation showed the whole country what the future is going to look like. That is the American way. 

ZYDE JAVIER: In moments like these, I feel ashamed of being American”

From migrant children in cages to the nearly monthly mentions of shootings, a current divide in America is evident. However, these issues do not exclude the conscience and voices of our youth. Often enough, I find myself troubled by these issues and worry for the future of my generation. 

At the age of seven, I still remember the news and headlines of the Sandy Hook shooting. Sitting in the lockdown of my small classroom, I could hear the hesitant and mortified whispers of my teacher and her assistant:

“Did you hear? 20 kids were shot by some lunatic.” She glanced sympathetically at us, deep in thought. But as I grew older, I could tell what she was thinking: What if it was them? On the ground with a bullet in their head. No idea why they were shot, or why they died.

I could recall the confusion in my mind. I couldn’t comprehend the reality that those kids my age were shot and killed by a man who had gone off the edge. The horror in my mother’s face when I had asked her why the man killed those kids, and if I was next too.

As time went on, these thoughts soon began to subside. But gradually, the abnormal topic unnervingly began to weave itself into our everyday lives.

February 14, 2018, Valentine’s Day. A day that should’ve been full of joy and love. However, it was a day full of tragedy. Before the Stoneman Douglass shooting, Valentine’s Day was just another corporate holiday to me. But looking back, it’s now a day that has changed my perspective of life. 

In school, it had started like a spider’s web. Various headlines that had woven its way to the staff, and eventually to the students. Surrounded by all the chocolate and gifts, we all thought the same thing, Another one?  As absurd as it was, none of us were surprised.

It was two months into the year, but there had already been more than a dozen mass shootings. When I got home, various headlines bombarded my phone.

“17 DEAD, MASS SHOOTING AT STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL.”

 The number seventeen was used with no importance, just another set of characters that may increase into the next year. Another tragedy, and another abundance of thoughts and prayers.

As I sat down in the comfort of my bed, I began to read the various articles that filled my phone. Suddenly, I was seven again. However, this time was different. I couldn’t comprehend the amount of rage and sorrow I felt at that moment.

I felt anger that my generation had to worry about gun violence and bystander trauma. If a popped balloon was a gunshot or if a triggered fire alarm was just a distraction, I could never be sure if that moment would be my last.

Days after the shooting, my older sister Krystal had sat me down. From the moment I saw her worried look, I knew she was being serious. She took a deep breath before she began:

“Listen, I know you probably heard about the shooting…If something like that happens, you need to survive.” She looked away, struggling to find her words, before beginning again, “Run as fast as you can–climb the fence, to the roof, out the window, I don’t care. The concrete walls and desks are good coverage, remember that. If they shoot, run zigzag. If you get hit, hold and apply pressure. And lastly, if they come back, play dead. No matter what, play dead.”

In moments like these, I feel ashamed of being American. I didn’t want to have these conversations with my siblings, nor did I want to worry. To exist in a modernized era full of mass shootings, my generation is desensitized to these issues, and can only anticipate the next. 

But as the survivors of Stoneman Douglas High School shooting stated, we need change. Seventeen minutes of silence isn’t enough for the progressiveness and safety of our generation. So instead of awaiting answers upon the older generation, this new generation of Americans are instituting change.