There aren’t words adequate to describe what it’s like watching a place that is part of every fiber of your being descend into an abysmal hell.
I am an alumna of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. High school-comma-town-comma state. A descriptive moniker that is now ubiquitous throughout the United States, and I’d imagine, the world, as yet another American mass shooting. But to the thousands of students who have walked her halls, it’s DOUGLAS. And Douglas is home.
Turning on CNN and seeing Anderson Cooper reporting right in front of my school with the same descriptive moniker emblazoned on the screen was jarring on its own. But then he said something that shook me. He said,
“I’ve never been to a school, after a shooting like this, where I’ve met so many students who are talking about issues of guns, in this time, when so many politicians are saying now is not the time to talk about it.”
It was in that moment I realized that Cooper’s sentiment could be explained in three simple words: WE ARE DOUGLAS.
We are ELITE. And we will not sit down, shut up, and behave.
Douglas students are scholars, and state and nationally recognized athletes, musicians, dancers, performers, mathematicians, philanthropists, and activists. Douglas alumni are passionate and successful. We are young. Douglas was only opened in 1990, making the oldest average graduate of the 1992 class 45 years old. We are lawyers, teachers, doctors, dentists, psychologists, professional musicians, professors, deans, professional athletes, nurses, models, engineers, firefighters, EMTs, entrepreneurs, elected officials, and military service members. And that is just off the top of my head. We are everywhere throughout the United States and the world.
And we are PISSED.
We are organizing. We are mobilizing.
In the immediate aftermath of the massacre, a closed Facebook group was started for Douglas alumni. In this group we’ve covered everything from immediate actions like bringing food and water to the trauma counselors and students, to memorial design, fundraising efforts, writing handwritten cards for Douglas students, to showing up at Douglas on the students’ first day back in solidarity and support. This weekend, alumni groups are meeting in locations throughout the country and the world to discuss how to help from afar. And, as Anderson Cooper aptly pointed out, we are discussing gun law reform. The overwhelming majority of alumni agree that gun law reform is the number one priority for our group. We are listening to Douglas’ students and the grieving parents of the slain. And we are going to act.
Don’t agree? We don’t care.
We won’t be stopped. We don’t play by your rules. We are too young to be hampered by the conventions of old, and too smart to be tricked into complacency. This is OUR school, this is OUR town, and this is OUR legacy. We will reclaim every last bit of our time at Douglas and make it known that because of us, mass shootings are a thing of the past. We’re not another name on a list, WE ARE DOUGLAS. This ends with us.
Join us. Or get out of our way.