Two weeks ago, the lives of Marjory Stoneman Douglas students were irrevocably changed by a gunman’s actions, but, today, these same students are looking to “reclaim the nest.”
More than 3,000 students returned to the their Parkland, Fl. high school for the first time since confessed shooter Nikolas Cruz, 19, opened fire on campus. They were surrounded by hundreds of alumni, parents and extra law enforcement officers who guided them onto campus, and were also met with droves of public support.
They were welcomed by principal Ty Thompson, who promised to “hug each and everyone of you as many times as you need and I will hold you as long as you need me to” while each student was handed a carnation from the faculty, reported CBS News.
“Looking forward to tomorrow Eagles! Remember our focus is on emotional readiness and comfort not curriculum: so there is no need for backpacks. Come ready to start the healing process and #RECLAIMTHENEST 🦅🦅🦅🦅” tweeted Thompson Tuesday night.
According to the bell schedule he shared, the students enjoyed a shortened school day with each of their eight periods lasting half an hour or less, which will continue for the remainder of the week. They were met with therapy dogs and counselors, according to Miami Herald.
For many of the students, the return to school inspired mixed feelings.
“I know Joaquin would want me to go to finish my high school year,” he said. “But I’m not mentally ready yet.”
He said that he has plans to return to high school eventually and head to college afterwards, but it’ll be too “emotionally tough” to return to Stoneman Douglas in particular.
Another student, Carmen Lo, lost her friend Carmen Schentrup in the shooting, but told the publication that he was “actually happy to go back to school.”
“I think it is in our best interests for us to come together to grieve,” she said. “We’re going back as a united school, ready to make change on behalf of the 17 lives and other schools across the country.
As for Building 12 — the freshman building where much of the carnage took place — lawmakers and officials have pledged to tear it down and figure out a place to house the 900 students who used it.
“It will still be very difficult for students to return,” Sen. Bill Galvano R-Bradenton told the Miami Herald. “But that particular building should be razed, and the memory of the perpetrator erased and a memorial honoring the victims and their families be put in its place.”