More than 1,000 schools in Florida paused all work at 10:17 a.m. Thursday to remember the 14 students and three staff members slain on Valentine’s Day 2018 in the deadliest high school shooting in the nation’s history.
CBS Miami reports that outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., angel stakes for each of the 17 victims bordered the school’s landscaped sign.
Freshman Matthew Sabia says he attended to show support and participate in activities.
“I want to show respect to what happened. The students who were here are probably sad and don’t want to think too much about it. We don’t really talk about it."
One year ago on Valentine’s Day, classes were almost over for the day when a 19-year-old former student arrived on campus with a semi-automatic rifle and began his deadly attack.
“We don’t need Feb. 14 to remind us what happened—we live with it every day,” says Andrew Pollack, whose 18-year-old daughter Meadow died in the shooting.
The massacre also led some Stoneman Douglas students to form the group “March for Our Lives,” which holds rallies nationwide calling for tougher gun regulations.
Thursday will be mostly a day to push aside politics. Victims’ families who have spoken publicly say they will spend the day quietly, visiting their loved one’s grave or participating in low-key events.
“We are going to simply reflect and remember,” says Tony Montalto, president of the victims’ families’ organization, Stand With Parkland. “That is the best thing.” Montalto’s 14-year-old daughter Gina died in the shooting.
At Stoneman Douglas, students will mark the tragedy by working on service projects. They also can receive mental health counseling and visit therapy dogs. Volunteers will provide massages and manicures.
Mickey Pope, chief of student-support services in the Broward County school district, says the staff worked with mental health counselors, community groups, the victims’ families and others for four months to devise a plan they believe will honor those killed and enable students and staff to mourn.
Still, many Stoneman Douglas students are skipping school. For some it’s too emotional; others don’t want to be in the spotlight.
Alexis Grogan, a junior, said she’ll spend the day picking up beach trash, dedicating her work to those who died.
“I survived something, and I don’t want to waste what I call a second chance at life because those who have passed don’t get that,” she says. “We have to make a difference for them.”
Video from CBS News: