Parkland lives forever changed
Books, media, college for some in spotlight
Two of the teenagers are headed to Harvard. Two of the adults are fighting for their jobs. But all who rose to prominence after a gunman’s brutal rampage at a Florida high school one year ago have been transformed.
On Valentine’s Day 2018, authorities say Nikolas Cruz walked into a building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High with a semiautomatic rifle. After six minutes of shooting and more than 100 rounds fired, 17 students and staff were killed and 17 more wounded.
Cruz, who had been expelled from the school the previous year, was arrested more than an hour later. Students David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez, Jaclyn Corin and Alex Wind were among a group who would gather at the home of Cameron Kasky, determined to ensure the deaths of their classmates and friends would not be shrugged off with “thoughts and prayers” and forgotten.
Thus, the “Never Again MSD” movement was born. The group was a crucial organizer of the National School Walkout of March 14 and, 10 days later, the March for Our Lives that drew more than 1 million people to rallies for safe schools and an end to gun violence.
The teens haven’t stopped working, urging young people to register and vote even though some of the students thrust into celebrity are barely old enough to vote. They lobbied for tighter restrictions on firearms. They challenged the National Rifle Association and the politicians it supports.
The school will mark the anniversary Thursday with a Day of Service and Love. Here is a look at some of the people thrust into the spotlight by the tragedy:
Kasky was a junior “theater kid” who had just left a drama class when the carnage began.
Kasky’s stature grew a week after the shooting when, during a Cnn-hosted Town Hall, he grilled Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio for his close ties to the NRA.
“Sen. Rubio, it’s hard to look at you and not look down a barrel of an AR-15 and not look at Nikolas Cruz,” he said.
But months later Kasky grew to regret his treatment of the senator. Kasky says he wants to encourage bipartisanship.
As for his own future, Kasky said he is “really trying to get into colleges for next year. God knows if it’ll work.”
Gonzalez, 19, was a senior and president of the school’s Gay-straight Alliance. She was in the school’s auditorium when Cruz struck – hiding, comforting fellow students and searching the Internet for updates until authorities crashed in and ordered them to flee. Gonzalez rocketed to fame after taking on President Donald Trump, the NRA, politicians and every foe of stricter gun laws in an electrifying speech in Fort Lauderdale days after the shooting.
Gonzalez, now attending New College of Florida, was honored by Variety as one of its five 2018 Power of Women honorees. Hogg wrote a book with his younger sister Lauren, “#Neveragain: A New Generation Draws the Line.” In the months after the shooting, Hogg failed to gain admission to UCLA and a few other top schools. That drew venom from Fox News host Laura Ingraham, who accused him of “whining” after the rejections.
Ingraham, under pressure, later apologized. Hogg took a gap year, advocating across the nation for youth activism and gun control. He continues to clash with the NRA and conservative broadcasters. He says he will enroll at Harvard in the fall.
Corin, president of the school’s junior class, was hiding in a classroom during the tragedy that would take the life of her good friend, Joaquin Oliver.
Corin will graduate in the spring and says she will attend Harvard in the fall.
Wind was a junior and drama club member who was among the first students to call out the president. That afternoon, when Trump tweeted condolences to families of the victims, Wind quickly responded, “Make stricter gun laws then.”
Now a senior, Wind recently joined other students in a book co-written by the MFOL founders called “Glimmer of Hope: How Tragedy Sparked a Movement.”
Cruz, 20, is being held without bail on 17 counts of premeditated murder and other charges that could result in the death penalty. Defense lawyers have acknowledged that Cruz was the killer, focusing their efforts on eluding execution.
Students mourn during a candlelight vigil on Feb. 15, 2018, after a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 people dead. A year later, the survivors are rebuilding their lives.