In Memory of Parkland: Five years later

Today we remember 17 people we lost at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.


Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Jessica Abramsky, News Editor

Five years ago, the Parkland community lost 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) High School. Fourteen of the victims were 18-years-old or younger, while the other three were teachers.

Families of the victims have used their pain and heartache to create change. They have passed a school safety law, Alyssa’s Law, and started numerous foundations. Also, the Parkland community will host a ceremony in honor of the victims on the evening of Feb. 14.

On Feb. 15, 2018, Florida Atlantic University released a statement regarding the tragedy at MSD.

The statement said that, at the time, over 400 FAU students and over 1,500 alumni attended MSD. 

FAU mobilized FAU’s Counseling and Psychological Services to help those affected by the devastating events that occurred on Feb. 14. FAU added a second FAUPD officer to the A.D. Henderson School located on the Boca Raton campus.

“I cannot stress the importance of the ‘See Something, Say Something’ movement in keeping our campuses and community safe,” wrote President John Kelly in the statement.

MSD will have a non-academic day on Feb. 14. MSD’s website says that students who attend school on Feb. 14 will have a choice of four on-campus service projects.

“This day will be a Day of Service and Love in honor of our 17 Fallen Eagles and those that were injured,” MSD’s website says.

The Victims

Alyssa Alhadeff, Martin Duque Anguiano, Alex Schachter, Jaime Guttenberg, Cara Loughran, Gina Montalto, and Alaina Petty were all 14-years-old when they were killed. Today they would be 19-years-old.

Luke Hoyer and Peter Wang were 15-years-old when they were killed. Today they would be 20-years-old.

Carmen Schentrup was 16-years-old when she was killed. Today she would be 21-years-old.

Joaquin Oliver, Helena Ramsay, and Nicholas Dworet were 17-years-old when they were killed. Today they would be 22-years-old.

Meadow Pollack was 18-years-old when she was killed. Today she would be 23-years-old.

Scott Biegel, a geography teacher, was 35-years-old when he was killed. Today he would be 40-years-old.

Aaron Feis, a football coach. was 37-years-old when he was killed. Today he would be 42-years-old.

Chris Hixon, the athletic director, was 49-years-old when he was killed. Today he would be 54-years-old.


In the last five years, the families of these 17 victims have struggled with heartache, but they’ve turned their pain and grief into action. 

Currently, Alhadeff is the chair of the Broward County School Board and a representative for District Four. She started a non-profit organization called Make Our Schools Safe, which focuses on increasing school safety measures. In conjunction with state officials, Alhadeff has worked on getting Alyssa’s Law passed in Florida, New York, and New Jersey. She aims at getting Alyssa’s Law passed in all 50 states.

Alhadeff feels she has to be Alyssa’s voice.

“I feel Alyssa lives inside of me and that I’m Alyssa’s voice and that my mission and goal in life is for people to remember who Alyssa Alhadeff was. And through Alyssa’s Law, I say that Alyssa is saving lives,” Alhadeff said.

Alyssa’s mom says she loved hanging out with her friends on the beach, shopping, and playing soccer. 

“On February 13, 2018, Alyssa played in the last soccer game of her life,” Alhadeff said. “And when she was done with the game, Alyssa came off the field and I said to Alyssa, ‘Alyssa, you know you just played the best game of your life’ and she said, ‘Yeah, I know mom’ because she truly really did and she was a phenomenal soccer player.”

The Parkland 17 Memorial Foundation is planning a permanent memorial in Parkland to remember the victims. The design of the memorial has not been decided on. Last month, the foundation put out a call to artists to submit designs. The foundation is building the memorial solely on donations. 

Foundation chairman Michael Moser, says that Tony Montalto, whose daughter Gina, was killed, got a board together a couple of years later to form a memorial. Montalto currently serves as the vice chairman of the foundation.

“We have a wide range of people on our boards that represent the community in the best way that we can to make sure we have a large diversity of people on the committee that can give different ideas,” Moser said. 

MSD administrators declined to comment on this story.

Remembrance Events

FAU March For Our Lives will host a support hour on Feb. 14 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the Student Union Diamond Palm Room. There will be 17 seconds of silence, refreshments, and counseling support available.

Alisa Gonzales, a graduate student studying social work, founded Students Demand Action (SDA) FAU to raise awareness for gun safety. She says advocacy and education will help prevent gun violence. She also encourages people to vote, attend rallies, speak to legislators, and inform and educate peers about the belief in ending gun violence in America. 

Gonzales thinks that everyone deserves to be safe and that gun violence is preventable. 

“Let’s make sure we are centering the voices of survivors and remembering and honoring the victims with action, advocacy, and awareness. We honor the 17 beautiful lives lost at MSD and send love, support, and healing to the survivors, victims’ loved ones, and the entire parkland community,” Gonzales wrote in an email.

Todd DeAngelis, the City of Parkland’s director of communications says the city will be hosting a five-year commemoration event at Pine Trails Park. 

“We will be holding the five-year commemoration event at Pine Trails Park. This park is the location for the candlelight vigil that took place the night after the tragedy in 2018. And it’s been the site of the commemoration event every year since,” said Todd DeAngelis, the City of Parkland’s director of communications. 

There will be spiritual leaders of the community leading a ceremony, a musical performance by the MSD chorus and orchestra, and a video remembering the 17 victims. The event starts at 5:30 p.m.

“We want to continue to say their names. We want to remember them and of course, we want to support their families,” DeAngelis said.

Jessica Abramsky is the News Editor for the University Press. For more information on this article or others, you can reach Jessica at [email protected] or DM her on Instagram @jessabramsky.