PARKLAND (CBSMiami) – Students returning to class at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High for the first time since the Valentine’s Day mass shooting were met with an outpouring of love and support.
“I just wanted to show my respect to the kids and to say they are not alone, once an Eagle always an Eagle,” said MSD High alum Steven Porter.
“If we could do something, one step, to make the day a little better than before they got here, that’s our goal today,” said Rod Skirvin, vice president of the Broward Police Benevolent Association.
Outside the school, hundreds of supporters lined the sidewalk holding signs and sharing hugs with students and parents as they walked onto campus.
“I can’t imagine the bravery it took to walk in there today, our prayers are with them,” said Debbie Richard.
Students told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that they appreciated the support.
9th grader Rahat Ali, said, “It makes me feel better entering school. I feel safer. I just hope that there will be changes that will make us feel safer.”
“It’s a good thing, everyone showing all this support,” said Braden Friedkes, another 9th grader. “The counselors and the therapy dogs helped out a lot. I was nervous when I came to school today but now I feel a lot better.”
10th grader Ryan Senatore said, “It feels amazing to see the whole country coming together to support us. This is a huge issue the school violence and it needs to be solved.”
Eleni Webster, also a 9th grader, said. “I feel the support helps and I feel much better after this horrible experience. Having all these people here makes it much better. I think there is so much bad going on that a little bit of good brightens up our day.”
Not everyone agreed.
Jack O’Keeffe, a 9th grader, said, “I Just think all this is a little bit late because it all just happened sending in all the police officers but there is nothing they can do to change what happened. A lot of laws need to change.”
Among the group of supporters were Broward Sheriff Scott Israel and uniformed police officers from across the country who wanted to send the message that they were not alone.
“If we could do anything to lighten in their spirits that’s worth the while,” said Officer Ed Geargy.
Ed Geargy is with the New York City Police Department. He and some fellow officers handed each student a flower as a show of support.
“We came down here to assist you guys, whatever little things we can do to make it a little smoother for these kids heading back to school,” said Geargy.
Also showing support for the Eagles were dozens of students from across the country.
“It’s a really moving experience, I can’t imagine what is going through their heads right now but we want to show them we are here, all the way from New York, we got their backs,” said NYU student Sarah Schecker.
Also at the school were local members of the New York City-based, crime-fighting group “The Guardian Angels” who plan to be more active around the school for the rest of the year.
David Cobra Clemente of the Guardian Angels said, “We are here to support students and their families. We are here to support the students and let them know that we are here for them.”
Ned Preacher Childress of the Guardian Angels said, “I believe that this tragedy need not happen again.”
Inside the school, counselors and therapy dogs from the Humane Society of Broward County were made available to students, teachers, and staff as needed.
For those needing counseling, these are just some resources offered by Broward schools: browardschools.com/crisissupport