Remembering Parkland: a year later, school safety still a priority

Schools around the nation struggle with threats to student safety, but on this tragic anniversary it’s important to remember victims and increase awareness of gun violence.

Muskan Bajwa and Arena Souphakoun

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A year ago on February 14th, 2018, 17 students and faculty members lives were taken at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The high school, located in Parkland, Florida, suffered a tragedy on a day that was meant to spread love. The school shooting shocked the nation, and people reached out to the victims, families, and the whole Parkland community with respect and sympathy. Along with condolences, the event sparked conversations around the country about school safety. Schools all across the United States have been on edge after the horrific tragedy. Closer to home, the Rock Ridge community was buzzing with speculations on school safety the day after the shooting in Parkland, due to the pep rally being canceled. That wasn’t the first or last rumor we would face.

On Nov. 28, 2018, Rock Ridge students and staff members became aware of an alleged shooting that was going to occur the following day. Later that day, principal John Duellman sent out an email to the Rock Ridge community saying that the situation was under control and that the threat was unfounded. Although the email reassured the community, the event brought the conversation about school safety back to our halls.

Thankfully, nothing happened the following day on Nov. 29. However, that doesn’t mean the topic should be dismissed. 2018 was one of the worst years on record for gun violence in U.S. schools, according to the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School (NPS). The NPS released data that showed that 97 school shooting incidents occurred in 2018, 34 more than the previously recorded 59 incidents in 2006.

“It’s a little unsettling how used to it we are now, because it has been happening more than once. So when you hear about a threat, it’s sad that to some of us that it’s almost normal,” junior Sophia Capriotti said.

Teachers also have concerns about the situation in U.S. schools.“I feel like it’s very important to take threats seriously. Due to social media, it’s easier for people to make threats without any repercussions. It’s really sad that we live in a time where tragedies such as a school shooting are normal to us now,” said career and technical education teacher Meriam Seboka.

Seboka, who was not fully aware of the threat on Nov. 28, was informed about it by her students. After discussing the situation with Rock Ridge’s Sheriff Deputy Baker, she discussed the importance of speaking up with her students. “If you do see a threat like that or hear about it, it’s important that you let an adult know,” Seboka said.

It’s critical to be aware, and equally critical to let the authorities and administrators know when a rumor or threat is surfacing. Through efforts like these, the community stands strong as a school and will continue to do so.

February 14 is a day to spread love, but it’s also a day to remember. To remember the victims, their families, and everyone affected by gun violence. This holiday will forever hold a significance about gun violence because it’s the anniversary of a tragedy that shook the whole nation. Although this day is about happiness and love, it’ll always come with sorrow for the 17 angels we lost, and every other human being whose life was taken due to gun violence.

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