BY JAELYN YEAMPIERRE AND SASHEEN JOSEPH
In light of the two-year anniversary of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) High School shooting, Broward County Public Schools made February 14, 2020 an early release day and a non-academic Day of Service and Love to remember the victims.
All teachers were instructed not to teach and instead reflect and give back to the community in memory of the 17 students and staff members who lost their lives, along with those who were injured, at MSD. Each academic department at CCHS planned a unique activity to do with students to help better the community.
“I think it’s important for us to come together as one and as a community because it’s not an easy day for many,” Assistant Principal Vera Perkovic said. “What we’re doing today is to just come together and work on activities that will help us process this day.”
Certain school-wide events, such as Zumba during second period, served the purpose of bringing positivity to CCHS students. Other activities, such as campus beautification, brought positivity to the environment, with the most notable being in the Hobin Garden, where students painted rocks and hung ribbons with kind sentiments on them.
“I think it’s important for us to come together as one and as a community because it’s not an easy day for many.”Assistant Principal Vera Perkovic
Aside from school-wide events, each academic department had an activity students participated in, such as blackout poetry with the English department, sidewalk chalk murals with the fine arts department, yoga and meditation with the physical education (PE) department and letters to veterans with the social studies department.
A paper butterfly mural was constructed by Latinos In Action (LIA) in the 3900 building. Over 500 multi-colored butterflies were cut between Thursday, February 13 and Friday, February 14 and attached to the walls throughout the hallways, leading to a heart in the center of the building.
Although there are butterflies of all colors, there are only 17 pink butterflies that surround the heart to commemorate those who lost their lives at MSD.
“I’m good friends with [an] MSD teacher and all his students. I guess it means more for me to do this for him and, just overall, people need to know that what happened was a tragedy,” LIA advisor Alfredo Pichardo said. “I know that––knock on wood––[if] anything like that were to happen here and every other school did nothing, we would be in disgrace.”
“I guess it means more for me to do this for him and, just overall, people need to know that what happened was a tragedy.”LIA advisor Alfredo Pichardo
Although the early release day was a non-academic day, normal attendance protocol was still in effect. Yet, a majority of students were not in attendance on that school day. For some, it may have been done in a form of solidarity, but others found it enticing to make the three-day weekend into four days.
“Our school has about 2,400 students and we have 377 here today, so that’s 16 percent of our student body being present,” social studies teacher Peggy Wilfong said. “This means that most of the student body thought it would be a waste to come to school today.”
Within Broward County, Valentine’s Day––a holiday centered around love––will always be associated with the MSD tragedy. Since February 14 will not exist on a school day for the next two years, the future of this day of service is facing a unique path, but the meaning of this day will most likely continue.
“In the future, I believe that we will have a remembrance day. Even though it will be on the weekend, that doesn’t mean that some of us won’t need that support,” Perkovic said. “Chris Hixon was my personal friend and he was the one that was the athletic director at Douglas when all of this happened. I think we [should] do all that we can to celebrate and remember [the victims], and do what you can to bring kindness to others.”
Photos by Anabella Garcia