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PTA hosts vigil honoring student victims

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Photo by Madison White

Photo by Madison White

Photo by Madison White

Alexis Perno, Staff Writer

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Students gathered at Curtis Hixon Park Monday, Feb. 19 to pay respects for those affected by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting. 

The shooting, which took 17 lives and occurred on Valentine’s Day, has already affected students and teachers, prompting lockdown drills and evacuations. The vigil was hosted by the PTA. 

“[I came] in respect of everything going on,” freshman Christian Mlack said. “I want people to show respect and acknowledge that this needs to stop, and that it can’t continue.” 

Theater students were invited to read the names of victims at the ceremony, which started at 7 p.m.   

“I read the name of Alex Schachter,” senior Dylan Fidler said. “It could have happened to anybody, and that’s a statement I hear all the time, but the point is it shouldn’t be happening at all. We shouldn’t have to say, ‘it could happen to anybody’ we should have to say, ‘it’s not happening anymore.”  

The crowd of mourners listened to the Carolwood Community Chorus and raised flashlights for the victims, bringing many to tears.  

“There’s a lot of emotions that I feel,” junior Alex Cashin said. “At first it was really sad, and now I’m… mad about the whole situation. There needs to be change done. I feel like this [shooting] is different because a lot more people are coming together and making… a bigger impact.” 

With the proximity of the Douglas shooting, students have begun to wonder if enough action is being taken.  

“I think [this will bring change] because a lot of times it’s not this close to home,” sophomore Audrey Taylor, who read a name at the ceremony, said. “It seems like people care a lot right now. I hope that [students] take away that this is serious and that it could happen to anyone. We need to be careful of what we say and how we can help.”  

One of the PTA members, Damaris Allen, led the event on a small stage erected near the water. Allen is a parent with two middle schoolers in Coleman.  

“I think that once the students mobilize themselves that it’s a gamechanger,” Allen said. “I believe that students are tenacious and have a powerful voice that doesn’t always get recognized. When they begin to use their voice, that’s when real change starts to happen.”  

An audience of white shirts and jeans crowded around the stage, as the event had requested for attendees to wear.  

“If you want to see what hope looks like, look around,” Allen said while hosting. “Hope is a single light coming together as a community and saying ‘no more’… Will this bring about change? My answer is most certainly without a doubt.” 

The vigil isn’t the end for many, however. Students are organizing a march, called “March for Our Lives”, set to occur on March 24. 

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PTA hosts vigil honoring student victims