REFLECTION: Parkland, a year later

Lydia Taylor

I still have the same thought when I walk into a classroom.

“If something were to happen, where’s the quickest exit? Where would I hide?”

I sit in the seat closest to my escape route, hoping that it would make a difference if a shooter were to come on school grounds.

I try to stay away from rooms with too much glass, or rooms without enough exits.

It’s the same thought I’ve had since the tragic mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 people dead. Many of them students with aspirations and paths already planned out for their future.

Carmen Schentrup, a 16-year-old with a goal of becoming a medical researcher. She was a week away from turning 17.

Nicholas Dworet, a 17-year-old who would have been a student at the University of Indianapolis right now becoming a strong asset to the swim team.

Alyssa Alhadeff, a 14-year-old soccer player with a strong skill of creative writing.

Luke Hoyer, the 15-year-old who always had a smile on his face and had a love for the NBA.

And many, many more.

It’s hard to celebrate a day that’s supposed to be full of love, chocolates and store-bought Valentines knowing that an act of hatred took place, resulting in lives lost — lives that deserve to be fulfilled but were taken too soon.

The fact of the matter is Parkland wasn’t the first to experience a tragic shooting, and unfortunately, it won’t be the last.

Since March 2018, nearly 187,000 students have been exposed to gun violence inside schools since the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, according to The Washington Post.

On average, the U.S. experiences 10 school shootings a year — 10 too many.

Don’t let this drop from headlines. Remember the lives lost — the students and staff who were there to educate and to learn, to grow and become strong assets to our society. The teachers and coaches that jumped in front of bullets to protect the students. Remember that anyone could be in a shooting — you, your loved one, your sister, your brother. Anyone.

Please don’t forget the 17 lives lost that day, along with the more than 200 others who lost their lives in school shootings.

Lydia Taylor is Digital Content Editor. Contact her at [email protected].