Parkland Students return to school, look for normalcy since mass shooting

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Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students returned to class today for the first time since the mass shooting that took 17 lives two weeks ago.

Coming Back

As students emerged from the school they were escorted by police officers holding back the news media in order to clear a path for students, some of whom were gracious enough to talk about their first day back.

For Daniela Jones, a 9th grader, it was a strange day.

“…[M]y teacher was killed and today we had a new teacher and it was just weird.”

Jones added that some of her classes have been relocated to new rooms, which created a lot of change for the first day back.

Her friend, Mirella Amaral, also a 9th grader, said that walking back into the high school today was scary.

“There were cops everywhere,” she said.

The resounding sentiment among the students who spoke to the media was the desire for a return to normalcy.

Finding Normalcy

It’s something Florida Baptist churches in the area are trying to help move students toward – normalcy. One of those churches is Church by the Glades in Coral Springs, who have many students and families who were affected by the mass shooting.

Abe Matos, student pastor at the church, said they have hundreds of Stoneman Douglas High students who attend their church and church leaders are grateful for the opportunities they’ve had to interact with them in the days and weeks since the shooting.

Before the tragedy, Matos said he was already starting to make contacts within schools in Broward County for a school partnership program the church started two years ago.

A makeshift memorial outside the school where people having been leaving flowers and messages of remembrance in the wake of the Feb. 14 mass shooting.

“Now all the contacts we’ve made with high school football coaches, student government sponsors, counselors, administrators, we can go to them and ask them what we can do to help them through the healing process,” Matos said.

Matos knows the recovery process will take a long time and is praying for the wisdom to strike the right tone in the coming weeks and months.

“I don’t want to linger with a spirit of sadness but want the wisdom to know how to transition students back into normalcy,” he said. “A year from now will still feel recent with something this tragic.”

Tommy Green, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention, expressed his gratitude to churches like Church by the Glade who are “loving their neighbors during this tragic time.”




By Keila Diaz and Nicole Kalil, Florida Baptist Convention, February 28, 2018

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