I graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2016. I walked those hallways. I sat in those desks. I learned, and sometimes fell asleep, in those classrooms. During the recent shooting, I was texting teenagers hiding in closets asking if they were safe, as safe as they could be, at least. I was checking SnapMaps and Find My Friends to see if they made it home or not. Worried is an understatement. And of course, what I was feeling was a million times smaller than what the students inside the school were feeling. These students are currently attending funerals every day this week while physically not being able to sleep or eat.
As the emotions started to subside, I realized what this would do to the community. Parkland is not big. Its population is about 30,000 people. The town is so small, my mom goes to a Publix that is farther from her house just to not be stopped by people she knows because everyone knows everyone. No one outside the area knew about my hometown a week ago. If someone asked where I was from, I said I was from the bigger town near it, either Boca Raton or Coral Springs. If the person asking wasn’t from Florida, I would say an hour north of Miami. They would nod their heads but really not know at all what I was talking about.
When you googled Parkland, Florida a week ago, maybe a few parody music videos and a couple headlines describing a new restaurant or park would show up. Now, it is pages and pages of this one incident that will affect my community forever. You, dear reader, probably didn’t know about Parkland either, and I don’t blame you. And still, you may know where it is now, but you don’t know what it is.
Parkland to me and many of its inhabitants is home. It’s rickety county fair rides and watching for chickens and iguanas in the road, at the same time. It’s Wings Plus staying open late for an after-competition meal with your tired and loud teammates. It’s driving slowly on the winding Loxahatchee Road and attending Parkland Kids Camp in the summer, either as a camper or a counselor. It’s attending the Winter Parade by force because you were in it. It’s standing on the roof or seeing the auditorium from The Cove before you graduate. It’s saying you hate this town so much, but you could never actually hate it. It’s home, and this week my home was hurt, but it is not broken. The town is in pain now, but Parkland breeds fighters.
I hope you are seeing the students from MSD on social media. These students who have lost so much were almost immediately tweeting and emailing their representatives and fighting for change. And I’ll tell you right now, those high school kids will not stop fighting. They will continue for justice, for safety, and for their friends who are not here to fight alongside them anymore. These students are letting the world know that no one messes with Parkland and gets away with it, and I could not be prouder of my hometown.
Seeing these kids scream for action gives me hope that my home would not be known as another school shooter town or another statistic. It would be known as the home of Emma Gonzalez, Cameron Kasky, David Hogg, and so many other outspoken students that will not take this sitting down. The future is so bright. I will always be positive, passionate, and proud to be a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School eagle. #NeverAgain.
Martin Buque Anguiano
If you would like to know more about the victims, here is a CNN article quoting their loved ones.
If you would like to hear more of what the leaders of the Never Again movement have to say, here is a speech spoken by Emma Gonzalez at a Fort Lauderdale anti-gun rally.