As a longtime Coral Springs resident who was in High School at J.P. Taravella when Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School opened (and had about half my friends move to the new school, and they were part of the first full graduating class from MSD), the events of February 14, 2018 were among the most painful I have ever had to deal with individually.
I don’t talk about it a great deal because it’s horrifying to think about, but one thing is clear- the greater Northwest Broward community will never be the same. Our community, our lives, our world view was instantaneously transformed that day.
When the shooting occurred I was in the Brickell section of Miami meeting with a colleague at Starbucks at Mary Brickell Village. I had put my phone on silent – as I walked back to my office passing under the Metromover line and crossing Brickell Avenue, I checked my phone and had a deluge of text messages that immediately made me numb. The rest of the day was horrible, and worse yet I had to tell my mother who was in London and flying back into Fort Lauderdale the next day about the shooting – for those who don’t know, she’s been active in the Broward Schools community for 40 years.
The shooting spurred a generation of activism locally on guns, safe schools and community that dangerous organizations like Moms for Liberty seek to undermine. Meanwhile, school shootings are becoming even more common in this country – a blight on the US throughout the planet. How does this country have the moral authority to lecture anyone about violence when we continue to not only tolerate it, but promote it through political rhetoric coming from many in the halls of Congress and Governor’s Mansions across the nation.
Five years on, the MSD effect dominates local politics and discourse, and the fight for safe schools continues. Let’s hope the next five years are better than the previous five in terms of violence and mass murders of young people, teachers and administrators in this country.