Parkland: one year later
After Parkland, students and parents helped shift the nationwide conversation on gun violence.
February 14, 2019
On Feb. 14th, 2018, a 19 year old took an assault rifle to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. He entered the freshman building and killed 17 students and staff members, injuring many more. In the days that followed, a group of Douglas students started the #NeverAgain movement, eventually becoming known as the March for Our Lives. Students also called for Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie to resign due to long running allegations of the district neglecting student safety procedures that could have prevented the massacre. Sheriff Scott Israel was also removed from his position as Broward County Sheriff this year following outrage from community members about his inaction on Valentine’s day 2018. Many parents turned into activists in the wake of their children’s deaths, some running for school board positions and others turning their anguish into moving art pieces. As a result of both student and parent action, as well as a nationwide shift in conversation around the gun debate, over 67 gun laws were passed in 27 states in the past year.
Students at Tigard High reflected upon the one year anniversary of the shooting, which affected millions of high schools across the nation. Senior Diana Angeles has not noticed that much of a difference in policy since the shooting.
“I guess it’s kind of still the same. I don’t think it’s changed a lot,” Angeles said. “Students have become more aware of the danger guns hold, and there’s been a lot of movement in the high schools.”
Angeles feels that schools and the government should take more action and responsibility when it comes to the safety of students in school.
“It is frustrating, because we’re going to be students for a long time. Most of us are going to have kids, or siblings at school and it’s frustrating that we aren’t able to feel safe in this environment that we spend 5 days a week at,” she said.
Junior Derek Nguyen remembers his initial reaction to the news about the Parkland shooting.
“The first thought that initially came to my head when I heard about the shooting was ‘oh, another one,” Nguyen said. “I also had empathy for the victims, especially since I could relate to this a lot as a high schooler. And the worst part, is that not much has changed.”
Nguyen recognizes that many schools, including Tigard, have made attempts to increase security precautions since the shooting.
“After the shooting happened the school took all these ‘security measures’, like they literally locked all of the doors except a few, but that was the only real thing I saw in response to the shooting,” he said. “Realistically, I don’t feel like that works or does anything to stop someone.”
Many students are honoring the lost victims in the shooting at Parkland. Senior Alex Hyunh believes that gun control is a realistic step towards preventing more shootings, especially in school buildings.
“I feel so bad for the people who had to face that, and no high school student should ever experience what they went through,” he said. “I think we should implement more rules about who can own a gun to prevent more events like this from happening.”
Senior Medhawi Munankarmi also has a difficult time reflecting on the shooting at Parkland, recognizing how similar the victims were to many students in Tigard.
“I can’t imagine being in a situation, especially at school, where my life would be in danger, not knowing if my friends or I would survive,” Munankarmi said “Many of the Parkland victims were around my age and never had the opportunity to say goodbye or experience the many things we take for granted.”
She believes gun control is the best solution to ensure that something like this will never happen again.
“I am very pro-gun control and I believe that strict gun laws are critical if we want to reduce the ongoing gun violence,” Munankarmi said. “I don’t think guns should be entirely banned, but there should be a higher legal age, mandatory classes, and stricter background checks.”
Remembering the 17 victims on the first anniversary of the shooting.
Aaron Feis, 37
Feis was an assistant football coach and a campus monitor at Douglas. He was killed after jumping in front of students to protect them. Feis left behind a wife and daughter.
Alyssa Alhadeff, 14
Alyssa played soccer for the Parkland travel soccer team, and eventually wanted to play for the US National team. She was described by friends and family as passionate, intelligent, and kind to everyone. Her mother, Lori Alhadeff won a seat on the Broward school board this year with a platform of school safety.
Scott Beigel, 35
Scott Beigel was shot unlocking the door to a classroom while the shooter was in the hallway, and is credited with saving the lives of many students. Beigel coached cross country and also taught geography. Over the summer, he worked as a counselor at Camp Starlight in Pennsylvania and had recently gotten engaged to a fellow counselor
Martin Duque Anguiano, 15
Martin Duque Anguiano was one of three cadets honored by the U.S Army Cadet Command after the shooting. He was the son of Mexican immigrants and a freshman at MSD. Anguiano’s friends described him as funny and outgoing kid, who was loved by all of his family.
Chris Hixon, 49
Chris Hixon’s wife described him as an awesome husband, father and American. Hixon was the school’s athletic director and is remembered for giving back to the community. He was a naval reservist and was deployed to Iraq in 2007. Chris Hixon also coached wrestling at MSD.
Gina Montalto, 14
Gina Montalto served on Douglas’ winter guard team. Her friends and family remember her fondly, describing her as kind, caring and always smiling. According to the Miami Herald, she also was a Girl Scout, a church volunteer, a soccer player, and a great student.
Nicholas Dworet, 17
Nick Dworet had committed to swim for the University of Indianapolis and had earned an academic scholarship. His family said that Dworet dreamed of swimming for the U.S team by the 2020 Olympics. The University issued a statement following his death saying that “Nick’s death is a reminder that we are connected to the larger world, and when tragedy hits in places around the world, it oftentimes affects us at home.”
Jamie Guttenberg, 14
Jamie Guttenberg loved dance and gymnastics. She was a freshman at MSD and spent much of her time volunteering with a program that helps people with disabilities. Following her death, her father Fred Guttenberg became an outspoken advocate for gun reform and founded Orange Ribbons for Jamie, to help raise awareness for gun violence.
Luke Hoyer, 15
Luke Hoyer loved basketball, and is remembered by his family for being an amazing individual who was always smiling. He was described as a quiet and good natured friend, and he looked forward to trying out for the football team at Douglas.
Carmen Schentrup, 16
Carmen Schentrup was named one of the 53 National Merit Scholarship Program semifinalists a day after she was killed. Schentrup played three instruments including piano, and was excited to start college. Carmen wanted to be a scientist and find a cure for diseases such as ALS.
Peter Wang, 15
Peter Wang participated in the JROTC at Douglas and was passionate about helping others. He was one of the three students honored with the U.S Army’s Medal of Heroism. Peter was last seen holding the door open for other classmates to escape. Wang aspired to attend West Point, and was wearing his uniform when he died.
Cara Lougharn, 14
Cara Lougham was a passionate Irish dancer at the Coral Springs Drake School, who loved going to the beach and watching the Baltimore Ravens. Her death was confirmed by a family friend who saw her last during the shooting.
Meadow Pollack, 18
Meadow Pollack was described as a sassy and confident girl who had a “smile like sunshine,” according to Rabbi Brad Boxman, who knew Pollack. She planned on attending Lynn University in Boca Raton, and was known to have a close relationships with her family and friends.
Helena Ramsay, 17
Helena Ramsay was gunned down when she put the life of her friend before hers. As the shooter approached the classroom, she instructed her friend Samantha Grady to shield herself with books as he entered. Ramsay was described as a joyful, selfless, and giving person. She loved cats, and even had up to 13 in her care at one point. She planned on going back to England with her college plans. Her friends and family made a hashtag-#HTMBGITW- Helena the most beautiful girl in the world, to honor and remember her.
Alex Schachter, 14
Alex played baritone and trombone in the school marching band and orchestra. In the wake of his death, his family set up a scholarship fund in his honor.
Joaquin Oliver, 17
Joaquin “Guac” Oliver was from Venezuela and had received his U.S citizenship the year before. After receiving the news about his death, many friends and family posted their remorse and memories of him on social media. He loved his family, friends and soccer. He had many Instagram posts with his family and proudly represented the national Venezuelan soccer selection.
Alaina Petty, 14
A loving, non-judgmental, and kind person is how many friends and family describe Alaina. She was a member of the Latter-day Saints, and had joined the JROTC to follow the legacy and footsteps of her brother, Patrick. She wanted to be a cadet to honor her country and help in her community.
Turning anger into action
I was inspired by the Parkland students, and spent my last year working intensely with the movement.
I remember where I was when I found out about what had happened at MSD. I was in my 3rd block publications class, and I remember not thinking much of it at first. As a nation, we have seemingly become so desensitized to these acts of mass casualty, that I didn’t blink an eye initially. But in the days that followed, the response nationwide to what had happened was unlike anything I had ever seen before. These kids weren’t silenced by what had happened at their school. They were motivated and angry, and they wanted to make sure that it didn’t happen again. I was motivated too. For seemingly, the first time in my life, I was seeing kids call out the systems that allow these shootings to continue to happen. The organizations like the NRA, which admitted earlier this year over $10 million dollars as a result of the movement, and the politicians who took money from it. I was inspired and drawn by their actions, and helped lead the walkouts and met with countless politicians to demand change. I joined March for Our Lives, and turned my anger into action. I met loads of people I wouldn’t have met otherwise, who I am now lucky enough to call my friends. But I can’t help but think that I shouldn’t have met them at all, because this shouldn’t have happened in the first place.
One year later, it seems like not very much has changed as far as gun laws in this country. But yesterday, HR8 which would create universal background checks on all gun purchases, passed in the house, and the “Keep America Safe Act,” which would ban high capacity magazines, was introduced. In Oregon, lawmakers have introduced measure like the controversial SB 501, a student written and student introduced bill; Governor Kate Brown has introduced HB 2251, which among other things would raise the purchase age on firearms; and HB 2505 would require safe storage of all firearms.
The last year has provided me with great insight into the legislative and democratic process, in a way I never imagined. I’ve learned a lot about other people’s view on the issue of guns in America and have been able to deepen and strengthen my own. I stand firm in the belief that gun violence is preventable, and not inevitable. This issue doesn’t just include mass shootings either. Gun violence includes police brutality and gang violence, as well as suicides and domestic violence incidents involving firearms. Last year, over 40,000 people were killed died due to injuries sustained by firearms. Moving forward, I am a strong supporter of bills like HB2251 and HB 2505, and would love to see them passed. The experience I’ve gained with politics over the past year has sparked a deeper level interest in many issues for me. I want to major in political science or government in the future, and hopefully pursue a path in politics. But for now, I’m focusing on the present with this issue. And that means fighting for change to the best of my ability, remembering those that were taken to soon by gun violence and fighting for them too.