By Ernie Rospierski, MSD Geography & AP European History Teacher
If I told you I had a 53% your response would totally depend on what that percentage was in reference to, a test score, BOO, but a batting average would put me into Cooperstown for sure on the first ballot. But for me it will always represent the people I lost on February 14, 2018. 9 of the 17 victims of the shooting at Stoneman Douglas were either my students or my friends. I am not asking for pity or your sympathy, because I am still breathing and here, but 53% of the victims were people who I knew, people that I invested time with, and who helped change me. That change is what I have been focusing on of late.
Jaime made me sweeter, she was just kind to everyone she came into contact with. Cara made me listen better, she was quiet in my class but was always listening and would be the first to get whatever I asked done. Peter made me remember to have fun. The kid was always smiling and looking to have fun, but made sure to get his stuff done and was the first to ask for help if he needed it. Luke made me smile and remember to joke with friends and to make sure that sometimes work is not as important as making memories with friends.
Alyssa showed me how to work. She was a grinder. She would get it done even if she did not want to, but it was also done well not just rushed through. Joaquin made me see what a diamond in the rough truly can be. Scott reminded me what it is to be a creative fun educator, one who can be counted on to make it fun for kids and for teachers to work with. Aaron charter member of team large at school, made me remember that no matter what the kid looks like or what they have done, they are just kids and need to be shown love and sometimes that love comes in a gruff exterior.
Chris showed me how important sports can be to students. He was all about making it possible for kids to be successful on and off the field and that success did not always mean winning games. Seventeen lives lost. Nine lives that changed me, and I am thankful for that. I feel sorry for the many who did not get to know these people. You missed out. I feel for the families who lost and for what these people could have been. But I am happy to have known these people and have been changed by them, and for that I am grateful.
There are no words to describe, nothing else to say
That will justify my English class on Valentine’s Day
– From a poem by MSD student Eden Hebron, 14
“Our community took 17 bullets straight to the heart.
It is time for change. We are Douglas STRONG,
we are Parkland STRONG. We will make a difference.”
– MSD junior Madison Leal, 16
When Does it Change
by MSD student, Charlie Shebes, 16
It changes when it’s you, not the student, but when it’s you the parent.
It changes when it’s them, your child, not hurt but unable to tell you they’re okay.
It changes when it’s us and we can’t bear it anymore, so we demand change and it is overlooked.
Why should it change?
It should change because you’re tired of hearing it on the news.
It should change because now they have to seek counseling just to sleep at night.
It should change because when you see us, you don’t really hear us.
What’s next is you do something about this.
What’s next is they get the help they need.
What’s next is we are listened to.
So next time you ask when does it change?
Know it changes when me, the sophomore boy without a care in the world is forced to grow up within an hour.