US: A year after a mass shooting, Parkland's grief goes on - PressFrom - US
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USA year after a mass shooting, Parkland's grief goes on

13:25  10 february  2019
13:25  10 february  2019 Source:   nbcnews.com

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On February 14, 2018, a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland , Florida, killing seventeen students and staff members and injuring seventeen others.

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“Just keep swimming.”

For the past year, Alexandra Greenwald has scribbled those three words on the back of her hand, just above her thumb, whenever she competes for the Hawkeyes gymnastics team at the University of Iowa.

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At the same time that Parkland teens are trying to create a political force to challenge the National Rifle Association, they also are juggling funeral and burial schedules day after day. “The impact of this is going to be on her heart forever,” he said after Alex’ s service. “But being with her friends from school

Just hours after 17 people were killed in a mass shooting at their high school in Parkland , Fla Hours after the mass shooting , surviving students turned to social media to discuss gun control. Tyra Hemans, a 19- year -old senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, demonstrated near the “I feel like some change is going to come of this,” she went on , her voice barely audible amid the roar of the

The words are a reminder of Nick Dworet, her best friend, a competitive swimmer who won a full scholarship to the University of Indianapolis before he was killed in the Feb. 14 shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

“It’s a way for me to compete in honor of him, knowing that he will never get the chance to fulfill his dream,” Greenwald, 18, said.

She writes the words when she misses him, when she is struggling, when she needs some extra motivation — not only as she flips through the air at the gym, but also as she confronts the pain of continuing her life without her friend since kindergarten.

“It was a way to move through this,” Greenwald said, “and know, as I keep going, it’ll keep getting better.”

That’s a hope many share in Parkland, almost a year after a gunman ended the lives of 14 students and three staff members. As the first anniversary approaches, grieving families and friends are bracing for a fresh wave of emotions. Some are angry about the district’s failure to prevent the shooting. Others are anxious about the anniversary itself, and the memories that will surface.

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PARKLAND , Fla. — Grief and raw anger were palpable on Friday at the first funerals for students who died in one of the As a boy, her grandfather survived a mass shooting by hiding in a closet. Now she was doing the same. “He is fully aware of what is going on , and he’ s just a broken human being.”

For the parents of the slain students, the anniversary is just another hard day in a year full of hard days.

“The anniversary for me is really meaningless because every day for me is Feb. 14,” said Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow Pollack, 18, was killed. “I feel the same way every day about losing my daughter.”

On the anniversary, one student said she plans to visit the grave of a classmate who was killed. Another said she wants to forget about the shooting altogether — she and her boyfriend plan to leave town for the day. Some Stoneman Douglas graduates who have scattered across the country are planning memorials at their colleges; others will remember quietly, on their own.

For current students, Stoneman Douglas will offer counseling and wellness activities and will encourage students to do service projects, such as working in the school’s garden or preparing food for the shooting’s first responders. In the evening, the city of Parkland will hold a vigil at Pine Trails Park.

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The Parkland school’ s principal, Ty Thompson, tweeted that the focus of the next three days will be “comfort, not curriculum." Students and teachers passed through tight security cordons of dozens of officers as classes resumed Wednesday for the first time since a troubled teenager with an

“ After a couple of years of doing that, going to these different rallies and meetings, I felt that nothing was changing,” he said. The national reaction to the shooting in Parkland , Fla., Williams said, inspired him. It has also angered him. “This isn’t the first mass shooting .

Eric Garner, a television production and film teacher at Stoneman Douglas, said he intends to spend the day in the school’s garden, where he hopes to find comfort during what he knows will be a painful day.

“I think it’s going to be years until we’re OK,” Garner said. “I’m not sure when that will ever happen.”

‘Birthdays, Thanksgiving, holidays, they all hurt’

One year after the shooting, the “what ifs” remain overwhelming.

Friends of Joaquin Oliver, who loved playing basketball and Mario Kart, think about how much fun he would have had in Orlando, where many of them moved for college after graduation. Carmen Schentrup’s friends wonder how she would have decorated her dorm room. Nick Dworet’s parents think about how he would have been training hard to compete in the 2020 Olympics.

“For Nick, 2020 was a big goal for him,” Mitch Dworet, Nick’s father, said. “Those kind of goals, those hurt.”

"There are so many hurtful things constantly,” Annika Dworet, Nick’s mother, added. “Like in the fall, when everyone is posting about their kids going to college and Nick is not. Birthdays, Thanksgiving, holidays, they all hurt.”

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Aalayah Eastmond, 17, was in Holocaust history class with Nick Dworet when he was killed. In testimony before Congress, she described him shielding her as bullets sprayed the room.

After the shooting, Eastmond poured her energy into the March for Our Lives student movement and traveled across the country with the nonprofit Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

“I spent the last year not worrying about my mental health, constantly working without taking a break to focus on myself and my school,” Eastmond told NBC News in a recent interview.

She doesn’t want to focus on the anniversary. “Everyone asks us how we’re doing and how we feel, but we have no idea,” she said.

Over the past year, the shooting has cast sadness over rites of passage for Stoneman Douglas students, from prom to graduation to the first day of school.

Sam Deitsch turned 15 on the day she hid in a closet at Stoneman Douglas, after she saw other students flee the gunfire. Her birthday is now forever linked to that terror.

“I feel like I’ll always think of it as the shooting,” Deitsch, who is now a sophomore, said. “That’s not going to change for the rest of my life.”

The deadly shooting happened on Valentine’s Day. Several students and victims’ family members said pink heart-shaped items that appeared in drugstore aisles several weeks ago were an unwelcome reminder that the anniversary was coming.

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Grieve . Remember that grief is a process. You cannot go around grief but through it. There is no set time frame to grieve a loss or particular set of stages one muct go through. Grief is unique. Everyone is different and everyone grieves differently.

In Thousand Oaks, there was grief compounded by grief . Just as residents were coming to terms with a shooting at a country Mr. McNey has lived through two mass shootings just a year apart: first, at the county music festival in Las Vegas, then once again “I don’t know what in the world is going on .”

Survivors before Parkland

When two students opened fire inside Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado, on April 20, 1999, Zach Cartaya, then a senior, hid in an office with dozens of terrified schoolmates. Over the next year, as he started college at the University of Northern Colorado, he turned to alcohol, torn with guilt over the death of Daniel Rohrbough, 15, whom he’d driven to school that day. On the first anniversary, when Cartaya returned to Columbine for a memorial, he said his primary emotion was fear.

“I remember being there, being OK, and then that heightened security and the police presence … left me terrified,” he said. “I was thinking, ‘Am I a sitting duck? Is there a copycat out there?’”

For the first year, the 20th of every month was a reminder of the shooting.

Several Stoneman Douglas students and parents of victims said they, too, find the 14th of each month particularly difficult.

While the first year is the hardest for some, grief does not follow a timeline, according to Dr. David Schonfeld, director of the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement, located at the University of Southern California Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work in Los Angeles. The center helps schools and communities cope in the aftermath of tragedies. There is often an outpouring of support in the first year and at the first anniversary, but that dwindles over time.

Schonfeld added that it’s common for those who are mourning to mark the passage of each week or month — and each missed milestone.

“These are horrific, life-changing events, and as a result for those who are most deeply impacted, they might think about it every day,” Schonfeld said. “Any type of major event or transition period will remind people of loss. A lot of it is tied to the date.”

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Eighteen- year -old Fernandez is the student-body president of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland , Florida. “I’ve been covering mass shootings for decades. Six days after the shooting , Florida state lawmakers voted against even debating a broad ban on semiautomatic rifles.

The San Ysidro McDonald' s massacre was a mass shooting that occurred in and around a McDonald' s restaurant in the San Ysidro neighborhood of San Diego, California, on July 18, 1984. The perpetrator, 41- year -old James Huberty

Cartaya, who in 2012 formed nonprofit The Rebels Project, based in Colorado, to support survivors of shootings, said that he eventually stopped counting the months, but April always looms in his mind.

“The entire month of April is hard for all of us,” he said. “For the MSD kids, February could be a bad month for them year after year after year.”

‘A year of firsts’

For Ryan Petty, all sense of time’s passage stopped when his youngest daughter Alaina, 14, a junior ROTC member who helped clean up homes after Hurricane Irma, was killed.

“One year is a marker for me and nothing else,” Petty said. “Every day, we live with the loss of Alaina.”

As the first year following the shooting comes to a close, Petty said he hopes one hurdle of the community’s grief will pass.

"It’s a year of firsts. Maybe there will be comfort in Feb. 14 that as we go beyond that day, that we won’t be dealing with the firsts,” Petty said. “I hope that’s true."

Last weekend, Nick Dworet’s parents attended the dedication of a plaque, a tree and a bench in the memory of their son at the Coral Springs Aquatic Center — the place where he developed a passion for swimming.

The Dworets think about how, years from now, kids in the community will wait for their parents to pick them up at the center and will look up at the plaque hung on the sky blue walls, and ask, “Who was Nick Dworet?”

“You have this fear of like, ‘We can never forget him.’ Helping other kids get inspired by Nick … I think that makes you feel like we’re doing something,” Annika Dworet said.

On Feb. 14, the Dworets will go to the ocean, where they spread Nick’s ashes last year. Otherwise, they’re making few plans. They’ll take the day as it comes.

Nevada governor signs gun background check law.
Nevada's governor on Friday signed into law a bill expanding background checks to private gun sales and transfer. The signing ended a week of fierce and emotional debate from gun violence survivors and opponents to the legislation. Gov. Steve Sisolak signed the legislation shortly after the Assembly passed the measure. The bill closes a loophole that allows gun buyers to avoid background checks by going through unlicensed gun sellers. The bill's signing comes the same week national attention shifted to the anniversary of a mass shooting in Parkland, Florida.

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