Students and teachers returned Sunday to a Florida High School for the first time since 17 people were shot dead there, consoling each other even as they called for swift action to address gun violence.
“Imagine (being) in a plane crash and then having to get on the same plane every day and fly somewhere else — it’s never going to be the same,” David Hogg, a survivor of the February 14 shooting at a Parkland, Florida high school, told ABC television’s “This Week.”
The school held a voluntary “orientation” Sunday, with teachers and staff due back starting Monday and classes resuming on Wednesday — a prospect described as “daunting” and “scary,” but which is also a step for survivors to move forward after the attack.
One teacher who had already been back told NPR radio that the shock of returning to a classroom left exactly as it had been during the carnage — notebooks still on desks, the calendar still set to February 14 — made her so physically ill she had to leave. But Cameron Kasky, a student who survived the slaughter, tweeted a picture of people on campus, saying:
“It is GOOD TO BE HOME.”
“I have all my friends here with me and it just makes me feel like I’m not alone in this situation,” student Michelle Dittmeier, who attended the orientation, told ABC.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School also received support from alumni, with previous graduating classes making banners to decorate the school, WSVN TV news reported. In nearby Fort Lauderdale Sunday night, religious leaders gathered for an inter-faith vigil that left 17 chairs empty in memory of the victims, WSVN reported, after protesters gathered outside the Kalashnikov USA gun manufacturer in neighboring Pompano Beach.
“Gun reform now!” said one of the protesters’ signs, while another called for the “death factory” to be shut.
With ardent demands by students like Hogg for action, President Donald Trump has said he is open to raising the minimum age for gun purchases and to banning so-called bump stocks, which can effectively convert semi-automatic weapons into automatic firearms, but which were not used in the Parkland killings. Speaking at the Governors’ Ball ahead of meetings with the top officials from all 50 states on Monday, Trump said school safety is a top priority:
“I think we’ll make that first on our list.”