Tributes, activism, safety drills mark 1 year since Parkland

COLUMBUS, Ohio  (AP) — Some students around the country marked the anniversary of the school massacre in Parkland, Florida, with moments of silence Thursday or somber vigils while others sought to find threads of positivity in the fabric of tragedy.

Boardman High School in northeast Ohio had a “legacy lockdown” including an active-shooter drill, a chime ringing once for each of the 17 victims from Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and an opportunity to applaud local emergency responders.

It repeated an event they did weeks after the Florida shooting: Students practiced hiding during the drill, then lined the hallways to clap and cheer as dozens of police and other responders walked through the school.

Seventeen-year-old senior Jack Pendleton, who helped plan that as a non-political response to what happened, said it’s a way to help students feel safer and responders feel more appreciated.

“We turn away from the dread and have to look more toward who’s helping us,” he said.

Near Washington, a group of students advocating for stricter gun control displayed 671 white T-shirts outside Bethesda Chevy Chase High School as a “Memorial to Our Lives,” with each bearing the name and age of a teenage victim of gun violence from 2018. That, too, expands on a display they initiated last year after the Parkland shooting.

Emily Schrader, an 18-year-old senior, said the display conveys outrage and loss, but the students who hung up the shirts Thursday morning also felt hopeful about demonstrating solidarity with victims of gun violence.

“Bringing it back to our school may be a way to allude to the student activism for the past year but also to keep the focus of the day on the victims and make sure that the stories and lives of the victims are being told,” Schrader said.

Students in suburban Kansas City sent kids in Parkland thousands of notes of encouragement written on labels affixed to chocolate candy bars, which were delivered to the high school earlier this week, The Kansas City Star reported .

Educators were remembering, too. In New York, the Buffalo Teachers Federation encouraged people to wear orange — as hunters do for gun safety — and join with others nationwide dedicating a moment of silence to mark the shooting.

Leaders of the nation’s largest teachers’ unions, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, issued statements remembering the Parkland victims, honoring survivors and urging legislation to reduce gun violence and improve school safety.

In Parkland, the 14 students and three staff members who died were being honored quietly through an interfaith service and service projects by students.

A Facebook page set up for mobilizing Stoneman Douglas alumni urged people to participate in an online vigil by posting pictures of lit candles with the hashtag #17Eagles. Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo was among the alumni tweeting in remembrance of the victims.

How to sensitively commemorate school tragedies is part of broader guidance the National Association of Secondary School Principals is working to put together this year to help principals in the aftermath of such situations, NASSP spokesman Bob Farrace said. It will be based on conversations with school leaders who have dealt with shootings over the past two decades, he said.

By Associated Press