By Ashley Ferraro, Douglas Graduate, class of 2015
It’s hard to believe that two years have already passed since our quiet city was shaken by the tragedy at Stoneman Douglas High School. On February 14th, 2018, we lost 17 bright and beautiful souls to a senseless act of violence.
You don’t think it will happen to your hometown until it does and you’re forced to face a world that is just as cruel as it is beautiful. Since I graduated from MSD in 2015, I’ve always been proud of the place I left behind. I had teachers who I felt were pushing me past my limits, but they were really just showing me what I was capable of. My coaches were never out to get me although it sometimes felt that way. They were simply paving a path for my success. However, I owe the most gratitude to my classmates. As I left Douglas behind for college, it was always my four years as an Eagle that shaped who I became.
Today, I am no less proud of Stoneman Douglas. In fact, I am more grateful to be a part of this community than ever before. Parkland has become a place of healing, growth, and constructive change. Just last month, Meadow’s Movement celebrated the opening of Princess Meadow’s playground. “Alyssa’s Law” is being advanced through the senate in memory of Alyssa Alhadeff. To celebrate Nicholas Dworet’s life, Swim4Nick offers clinics and other resources in order to help kids learn to be better swimmers. Orange Ribbons for Jaime makes donations toward Jaime Guttenberg’s passions; one was dancing.
In another ode to the art of dance, A Dancing Angel Award was created in memory of Cara Loughran. The Gina Rose Montalto Memorial Foundation assists students with costs of post secondary education and makes donations to charities Gina supported. Luke Hoyer’s love for basketball fostered the creation of The Luke Hoyer Athletic Fund. Change The Ref was formed in Joaquin Oliver’s memory in order to empower America’s future leaders. In honor of Alaina Petty, the WalkUp Foundation was formed with a mission to improve the safety and security of schools. The Helena Ramsay Soaring Leader Scholarship is awarded to MSD students who demonstrate some of Helena’s most core values. The Alex Schachter Scholarship Foundation Fund keeps Alex’s memory alive by supporting the school’s marching band and promoting school safety. The Carmen Schentrup ALS Research Fund raises money to fund research in hopes of curing ALS. For their bravery and dedication, the U.S. Army posthumously awarded Alaina Petty, Peter Wang and Martin Duque each with its Medal of Heroism.
The Scott J. Beigel Memorial Fund, the Coach Aaron Feis Foundation, and the Chris Hixon Athletic Scholarship were all created in honor of the MSD staff members who lost their lives. Countless other organizations, scholarship funds, memorials, etc. have allowed our community to see a light through what could have been our downfall.
Parkland is far from a perfect place, but it’s a place of compassion and opportunity. We are not defined by the tragedy, but by our ability to overcome.