Parkland: One year later

Fear lingers as safety progresses slow since Parkland shooting.

Feb. 14, marks a year of the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. One that left 17 people dead and many families destroyed. Former student Nikolas Cruz pulled the fire alarm and opened fire on students and teachers with an AR-15.

Since then, measures have been taken to support the making of gun laws stricter and prevent an event like this to happen again. On Feb. 21, Parkland survivors, including Emma Gonzales, went to a town hall meeting in Sunrise, Florida with U.S. senator Marco Rubio, Bill Nelson, Rep. Ted Deutch and NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch. During the meeting, supporters talked about gun violence and NRA’s position on legal modifications to semi-automatic weapons. The students call for a ban on assault-style guns, and yet, nothing happened.

On March 24, the student-led March for Our Lives took place in Washington D.C. to advocate for stronger gun laws. Hashtags like #NeverAgain and #March4OurLives, fueled a wave of social media along with an increase of support.

New laws and bills were passed, varying from state to state; raising the minimum to purchase a gun to 21, banning bump stocks and expanding background checks.

Although there have been changes to prevent shootings, to some, these have not done enough.

“Some laws have passed to help the cause, which is amazing, but there have been over 20 school shootings since Parkland,” senior Avery Watson said. “It’s hard to feel that there is a difference because you turn on the news, and once again, there’s another shooting.”

There have been 31 school shootings since Parkland. Of these 31 shootings, one took place in Santa Fe High School in Texas that took the life of 10 people. Other school shootings took place in Great Mills High School in Maryland and in Miami Northwestern Senior High School, both taking the lives of two people.

One year later, the fear still lingers in students, teachers and administrators. The fear of hiding under desks or behind bookshelves becomes real.

As a teacher and as a mother of two kids, English teacher Samantha Richardson sends her kids to school and teaches with a different attitude then before Parkland.

“I’m still fearful of another event happening, [therefore] I come into school more aware of my surroundings, I always monitor my students with their behavior and emotional levels,” Richardson said. “However, my biggest concern is as another sending my own kids to school, because every day I send them with a fear that something could happen.”

Like teachers, students come to school looking for warning signs or their nearest exits. They come to school every day with thought of “What if?” and “What would I do?” simulating the situation.

“I’m in school, a place where I’m supposed to learn, and I’m thinking of exits and items I could use to block the doors or defend myself with,” senior Valeria Rivera said. “I hate that I feel that I always have to think ‘What will I do?’”

School Resource Officer, David Attaway, along with teachers; aim to implement stricter rules to keep the school safe. With more door checks, regulated entry to the school and a “safe spot” corner in classrooms that is marked with red tape are adjustments made to prepare for situation like Parkland.

“We’re pretty forward thinking so we adjusted a few things, but we had so much in place already and we were far beyond than they were,” Attaway said. “Just awareness among our staff became a little better.”

Even with heightened awareness, the fact that it is one year since Parkland, the dangers bring worry to people and are still very real.

“When I saw ‘One Year Anniversary’ the shock of everything happening just hit me all over again,” Richardson said. “I can’t believe that a year has passed and we are still on the same page.”