Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school students pet a therapy dog on their first day back after the Parkland, Florida, shooting.


This is what Stoneman Douglas High School looks like on survivors’ first day back

Students were greeted with support and therapy animals.


Samantha Grasso


Posted on Feb 28, 2018   Updated on May 21, 2021, 11:15 pm CDT

For students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the site where 17 died at the hands of alleged mass shooter Nikolas Cruz, Wednesday was the first time many set foot in their classrooms in the two weeks since the shooting.

In the days leading up to the Parkland survivors’ arrival, high school principal Ty Thompson shared the faculty’s preparations on Twitter, writing that Wednesday’s focus would be on “emotional readiness,” not curriculum.

For several of these students—such as Emma González, whose tearful speech launched her and her peers’ movement March For Our Lives into virality; David Hogg, whose activism has been berated by right-wing conspiracy theorists, among them Infowars “truther” and mass-shooting denier Alex Jones; and Cameron Kasky, who held Florida Sen. Marco Rubio accountable at a CNN town hall for his donations received from the National Rifle Association—this day is exactly what they needed.

Several students prepared for the day back with a dose of inspiration from Marjory Stoneman Douglas herself, a suffragette who encouraged to “be a nuisance where it counts,” as well as inspiration from fellow students.

Matt Deitsch, an MSD student, shared a poem written by his sister and fellow student, 15-year-old Samantha, about the day of the shooting and the subsequent death of her friend Jamie Guttenberg, one of the 17 people killed.

Activist Kasky prepared for the day and followed up by sharing his feelings of excitement and love on Twitter.

Others reckoned with the idea that, despite this return to normalcy, nothing will be the same again. Several mourned the loss of Aaron Feis, an assistant football coach who died shielding students from gunfire. Students recalled waving to Feis every morning as he greeted them on their drive into the senior parking lot.

And then, there was the “emotional readiness,” with students on campus tweeting about the support they received on their first day back—including cookies and therapy animals (like a goat!).

And while the students’ return to normalcy meant easing back with some semblance of comfort, politicians such as Tallahassee, Florida Mayor Andrew Gillum and Democratic Florida Sen. Bill Nelson recognized this was no “day off” from the students’ original call—to prevent a mass shooting like this from ever happening again.

H/T the Cut

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*First Published: Feb 28, 2018, 3:20 pm CST