Communities act on the aftermath of Parkland

High school mass shooting leaves students to take action to change the future.

Jessica Maldonado, Staff Reporter

The second biggest school shooting in U.S. history took place on Wednesday, Feb. 14 in Parkland, a small town in Broward County. This incident took the lives of 17 students and teachers and injured 14 students. The shooter, Nikolas Cruz, was 19, with a history of violence and expulsion, was charged with 17 counts of premediated murder.

This incident left people shocked and worried including teachers, parents and students here. Since the school shooting was in Florida, it made students think about the reality of mass shootings.

“I started looking into it the day after it happened and as soon as I played a video with graphic content I immediately broke down,” junior Courtney Ring said. “Honestly I’m so ready to fight for us.”

As Oviedo is very similar to Parkland in the way that they are both very safe neighborhoods in Florida, their security systems are very similar with the locked doors, code red and fire drills and that both schools are number one in their county, makes students think about a lot of “what if” questions.

Many teens are standing up voicing their opinions around the world, making people listen and inspiring others to take action. Douglas High senior Emma Gonzales survived the attack, and gave a passionate speech this Saturday, Feb. 17, in front of the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale. She said that Stoneman Douglas High school will be in textbooks not because of the mass shooting but because they are going to be the last one.

While students have been called to action, they have also wanted to support those impacted by the shooting.

The English department decided to have their students write letters to government officials about what they are feeling and what they think should be done. This idea came from a World History teacher from Douglas High School asking for other schools to help bring awareness by writing letters.

“We felt like it was a great activity for students to reach out to their peers, to bring some kind of comfort, relief or hope to those who have been directly affected, and to use the writing skills we teach to students in real life situations,” English teacher Samantha Richardson said.

Like every school district, Seminole County has measures in place to keep students safe. The doors are always locked, practicing fire and code red drills help, and a new app, the soft panic button, will also help. This is an app that teachers have on their phones that they can press when there is an active shooter or another emergency, and it will automatically inform police officers what is going on.

Even before the shooting, administrators walked around campus checking if all the doors are locked, with no warning, leaving multiple teachers surprised. Hagerty also was the first school to practice code red drills during lunch. Students are taught where to go, where to hide and how to act.

While these measures were in place before the Douglas shooting, the Feb. 14 event made it more important to make sure everything is being followed through. For something like this to happen to a school whose security systems are not too far off as this school sets off a mental alarm.

“Students are unaware of the things we are doing because we don’t necessarily want them to know, but we have the most working cameras in the county,” Officer David Attaway said. “We just had to lock a couple more doors and put up some fencing, but the fact that we didn’t have to change much shows that we are in pretty good shape.”

Students turn to authorities, like Attaway, for answers on what is going to happen and what is going to change to make them feel safer.

“We can definitely continue practicing our policies and make sure everyone knows what to do in any situation, but at the end of the day we can not 100 percent prevent something like this to happen,” junior Julianna Orlando said. “It is a sad reality but it is something that we need to recognize and prepare for.”

Having tragedies like this one after another leaves an immense impact on nearby schools and triggers strong opinions to be said and heard. It impact teachers, parents and students the most, leaving come back into school more scared.

“I came back to school worried that something may happen, I know that our school strives to be safe, and from what I’ve heard, so did Douglas, which was what scared me the most,” Daleandro said.

Attaway also said that in order to comfort students of this school, he will soon be posting a Public Service Announcement video, explaining what to do to make students feel more comfortable and give them a more understanding on what would happen if something like this would happen to this school.

While students are protesting and bringing attention to this serious situation, teachers and parents stand back and support them and are willing to take action too.

“I wouldn’t be able to say anything other than I am sorry, but one thing that I can say that can give them some hope is that I will forever encourage students to make changes when change is necessary and that I will always try to do everything in my power to make sure that this does not happen again,” Richardson said.