By Shannon Scandiffio, Jayden Royal and Matthew Emmanuel
MAR 06, 2018
Valentine’s Day is a day to spread love and affection for one another, but instead on February 14, 2018, hate was spread when a mass shooting occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
According to NYtimes.com reporters, Matthew Haag and Serge F. Kovaleski, during the previous school year, 19-year-old Nicholas Cruz had attended Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, but he was expelled. On Wednesday, February 14, at approximately 2:19 p.m ET, Cruz sought revenge at his old high school. He used an AR-15 to kill 17 people – students and teachers – and injured 14 more. He was charged as an adult, with 17 counts of premeditated murder.
Americans are now speaking out about gun control, and the Saint Thomas Aquinas High School (STA) community has added voices to this cause. At 12 noon, on Wednesday, February 21, hundreds of STA students walked out of their classrooms and gathered on the STA football field to honor those who lost their lives during the shooting and to protest the lack of gun control. The students formed a circle around the giant “A” on the field where they prayed for 17 minutes – one minute for each victim. But it didn’t stop there, the Raider community is raising money to help the Stoneman Douglas community. Recently the STA lacrosse and baseball teams sold shirts for $20. Currently the National English Honors Society (NEHS) is selling bracelets for $2 and the Student Activities Office is selling #DouglasStrong T-shirts for $10. Mrs. Margie Scott, STA Assistant Principal and Director of Student Activities, explained that all proceeds from these sales will be donated to help the Marjory Stoneman Douglas community to rebuild.
Alexa Hui, STA’s student body president, designed postcards to send to the state legislators, asking them to reconsider the gun laws and have more access to health care for mentally ill people. On the front of the postcards, she included a quote from Marjory Stoneman Douglas that says, “Be a nuisance where it counts; Do your part to inform and stimulate the public to join your action. Be depressed, discouraged, and disappointed at failure and the disheartening effects of ignorance, greed, corruption and bad politics–but never give up.” On the back she added her own original piece, “We believe in restricted access to high-capacity weapons, stringent universal background checks on gun purchases, and making gun trafficking a federal crime. We believe in improved access to mental health care and peacebuilding in our communities. We believe something CAN and MUST be done because we believe in compassion, thoughtfulness, and responsibility. WE KNOW LOVE. WE SEEK CHANGE. WE HAVE A VOICE, AND WE ARE USING IT. We ask that you use yours.”
The postcards, which will be distributed the week of March 5, have a space where students can write the address of a Florida representative(s) in the federal government, then sign their names and include a return address. Alexa plans to print at least 2,000 and hopes to get other schools in South Florida involved as well. February 14, 2018, is a day that will never be forgotten, and people from all over the country are calling for reform. The STA community continues to protest, pray, and help, as the fight for change persists.
UPDATED MAR 14, 2018: One month after the tragedy, at 10 a.m. the STA community united to pray for the 17 victims. Seventeen Raider students and staff members, who knew the victims, honored them by sharing their biographies with the assembly.