It could have happened to us

Events of Parkland, Fla. shooting all too familiar, reveal need for reform

Amelia Vanyo and Kelly Wei

They are teachers, friends, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters. They had futures, lives filled with success and love. Now they are frozen in a heartbreaking memory, trapped between the thick pages of a life that will never be lived.


Parents will bury their children.


Younger siblings will grow older than their lost brother or sister.


On April 20, 1999 – shortly before either of us were born – Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 13 at Columbine High School in Columbine, Colo. School shootings were not a common occurrence, and the Columbine Massacre shook the country to its core. But in our short lives, school shootings have now become a regular occurrence.


On Feb. 14, students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. had their school day interrupted by an old classmate, Nikolas Cruz, and his AR-15.


The news spread quickly. Amit Dadon, a freshman at the University of Maryland and a graduate of MSD, heard about it through a friend he knew from writing for the school newspaper, The Eagle Eye.


“She was saying that there was an active shooter on campus and they [could] hear the shots from their room and [were] hiding in the closet,” Dadon said.


MSD sophomore Leah Goldberg first began evacuating in response to the fire drill, before the class all crammed into a closet.

“I was in chemistry and we started evacuating for the fire drill, and then we all crammed into the back corner and just prayed,” Goldberg said. “I don’t even really believe in God, but I was praying.”


Seventeen people were killed by Cruz, with more left severely injured. One of the victims was senior Nicholas Dworet, a 17-year old-boy with a bright spirit, a passion for swimming and tremendous potential.


At his funeral on Feb. 21, friends and family who came to pay their respects dressed not in black, but in bright colors, per the request of Dworet’s parents.


MSD sophomore Katrina White knew Dworet through the swim team and attended the funeral.


“The world lost a beautiful soul,” White said. “He was one of the happiest people, he was always cheering up the team. If it wasn’t our best meet he was always bringing in some positivity. He was one of the fastest people, he was always giving advice and motivating everyone.”


Goldberg, who is new to MSD this year, was in DECA with Alyssa Alhadeff, who was killed in the shooting.


“I found out [she died] at 2 a.m. the next morning,” Goldberg said. “We were in DECA together and we sat next to each other in school. She was my first friend at the school. She was really outgoing. She was always doing stuff with the school, she was on the soccer team and had just joined track. She was really amazing. We had the period right before the shooting together. We said ‘bye’ but I never would have expected it to really be final.”


Now, in the aftermath of a tragedy that marks the 18th school shooting of 2018 alone, students have reared against a future they refuse to enter, calling for change.


When surviving Parkland shooting student Emma Gonzalez says, “We call B.S.,” in response to pro-gun arguments, she speaks on behalf of a shattered community, and with the rage of those who now come home to empty bedrooms and unworn graduation gowns. She speaks on behalf of her peers, who now know death more intimately than most ever will in all their lives and have gained from it nothing but hurt, trauma and an anguished desire to see change.


Whether we are ready for it or not, the fight has come to America’s doorsteps.


March for Our Lives, scheduled to start in Washington D.C. on March 24, is the first of many resistance waves demanding government to take responsibility for students like Dworet and Alhadeff, who had too much in front of them and too little time in the world.


The march, estimated to garner more than 500,000 attendees in D.C., will include student speakers, musical performers, guest speakers and video tributes. Spearheaded by the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, it is evident now more than ever the youth of America will not allow faulty legislature to steal away more from their future and safety.


Gun violence and gun control in America are no longer conversations to be gingerly sidestepped, nor is it an option anymore to remain passive in the hopes of controversy fading back into obscurity. Not with so many voices calling for revolution, and certainly not with the blood of countless innocent lives smeared across our campaign – we as a nation have simply lost too much to afford silence.


If you think that this fight is going away, we are here to tell you that it is not. The MSD  students will never back down, and the longer they hold their heads high, the more students will join their ranks.


“We won’t let it die down for us,” Dadon said. “Knowing the energy of these kids – I’ve met them, I know who they are – their energy, their passion for remembering these kids we lost, and for remembering the trauma they all went through, they won’t let this fade away.”


Above all, here is perhaps the scariest thing to consider: All of this – every hurried heartbeat, every terrified text message sent to those you love, every funeral, every teardrop, every scream, every body ripped apart by a high velocity rifle originally designed for military use –  it all could have been us.


This time it was Parkland, but who is saying that Coppell will not make it to national news in the future?


It could have been us, and unfortunately it still could be, unless something changes.


Protect your kids, not your guns, or you risk losing a piece of your heart.


Follow Amelia @ameliavanyo and Kelly @kelllywei