PARKLAND (CBSMiami) — For many students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, February 14 marks the day their lives changed forever. That includes survivor Annabel Claprood who was in her sophomore Spanish class when the gunfire erupted one year ago.
A lot has happened in a year. The Claprood family attempts to have a normal day, but this Valentine’s Day is anything but normal.
“I don’t think it is ruined. I just think I’m going to think differently about Valentine’s Day than I would any other day,” Annabel told CBS4’s David Sutta.
Annabel’s Snapchat shows the exact moment the shooting started.
“I was sending my mom cute photos with a lollypop and then it was, ‘Does anyone know which coach was shot’?”
She has a picture taken in her classroom as she hid behind a desk with classmates. The school shooter unloading his gun just outside their door. A matter of seconds determined why she is here today and others are not.
“The minute the door shut behind me the first shot went off,” she recalled.
Annabel believes because someone distracted the shooter, he passed her classroom, and unloaded on the room right next door instead.
She escaped the 1200 building that day but left her innocence behind.
“I went through hell and back. And now I’m better and I’m stronger, and I’m better and I’m doing things that I love because of the one thing that almost ruin my life. And I’m not letting it ruin my life. And that’s where I am now.”
With the help of family and her therapy dog, the past year has been a journey of healing.
The 17-year-old who used to be shy and would never take a risk is now living because she survived.
“I did it. I think that’s the best part. Knowing that I actually made it through, and not a lot of people are. There are still so many people struggling with so many things. I am. But I’m looking at the bright side of everything,” she said.
Part of the healing process meant leaving Stoneman Douglas. Not because she wanted to.
When asked whether she thought the school is safe, she replied, “No, I don’t have to even think about that. I don’t think it’s a safe school and it shouldn’t be open anymore to be honest with you.”
At issue are a number of security fixes that students have found to be bogus.
Areas not guarded, backpacks not being searched and ID’s not being checked, she said.
Security is so lax, she said, her friend used her ID routinely.
“He got in. All the time. He used to use my ID all the time.” She added, “A guy using a blonde girls ID was able to. It wasn’t even this year’s ID. It was last year’s so they shouldn’t have let him in to begin with even if it was his ID from last year.”
Annabel enrolled at a private school and is much happier.
In the year since the shooting, she has become an activist for school security and gun reform.
The changes made by lawmakers have not impressed her.
“Obviously the shooting didn’t mean anything because nothing has changed, for the lawmakers at least.”
Annabel has no plans though to back down. Her advice to our community on this Valentine’s Day is not one of love or healing. Rather it is to speak up.
“The dumb quote that’s on every school wall, it actually means something. You see it, say it. Because that’s how you make change. If you are not going to say anything and you are just going to quietly see it and somebody else will deal with it, that’s what everyone else says. That someone else will call. Someone else will fix it. No. That’s not how you are going to make change. You have to see it and say it. I really do think that your voice is powerful.”