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MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) — On Thursday morning, more than 1,000 schools in the state paused all work at 10:17 a.m. to remember the 14 students and three staff members slain last Valentine’s Day in the deadliest high school shooting in the nation’s history.
Outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, angel stakes for each of the 17 victims bordered the school’s landscaped sign.
Freshman Matthew Sabia said he attended to show support and participate in activities.
“I want to show respect to what happened. The students who were here are probably sad and don’t want to think too much about it. We don’t really talk about it,” he said.
Classes were almost over last Valentine’s Day when authorities say a 19-year-old former student arrived on campus and began shooting.
Jogger Kara Cannizzaro stopped Thursday morning to pray at the memorial outside the school. She says “every single person of the community has been affected by this.”
Marjory Stoneman Douglas students will be performing service projects and a non-denominational, temporary temple will open in neighboring Coral Springs for people to pay their respects. The structure will later be burned in a purification ceremony. Security throughout the community and at schools will be high.
“We don’t need Feb. 14 to remind us what happened. We live with it every day,” said Andrew Pollack, whose 18-year-old daughter Meadow died in the shooting. He met with President Donald Trump at the White House after the shooting and became an adviser to Gov. Ron DeSantis and his predecessor, Rick Scott. Other fathers like Fred Guttenberg and Manuel Oliver have become active in Democratic politics.
And victims’ relatives from both sides helped lead the successful push to remove Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel. DeSantis suspended the Democratic sheriff last month, citing incompetence in his handling of the shooting. Israel is fighting the suspension in the state Senate and says he will try to win back the office in next year’s election.
The massacre also led some Stoneman Douglas students to form the group “March for Our Lives,” which holds rallies nationwide calling for tougher gun regulations and toured the country registering young adults to vote.
“It was the kids themselves that made Parkland an unusual shooting,” said Adam Winkler, a professor at the University of California Los Angeles School of Law and gun rights expert. Just in Florida, 49 people died in the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando and five died at Fort Lauderdale’s airport in 2017. There have been other notable mass shootings across the country during that period — at a Las Vegas concert, a Pittsburgh synagogue and a Texas high school. But none resonated politically like Stoneman Douglas.
But Thursday will be mostly a day to push aside politics. Victims’ families who have spoken publicly say they will spend the day quietly, visiting their loved one’s grave or participating in low-key events like a community walk.
“We are going to simply reflect and remember,” said Tony Montalto, president of the victims’ families’ organization, Stand With Parkland. “That is the best thing.” Montalto’s 14-year-old daughter Gina died in the shooting.
At Stoneman Douglas, students will mark the tragedy by working on service projects. They also can receive mental health counseling and visit therapy dogs. Volunteers will provide massages and manicures.
Mickey Pope, the district’s chief of student-support services, said the staff worked with mental health counselors, community groups, the victims’ families and others for four months to devise a plan they believe will honor those killed and allow students and staff to mourn.
Still, many Stoneman Douglas students are skipping school. For some it’s too emotional; others don’t want to be in the spotlight.
Alexis Grogan, a junior, said she’ll spend the day picking up beach trash, dedicating her work to those who died.
“I survived something and I don’t want to waste what I call a second chance at life because those who have passed don’t get that,” she said. “We have to make a difference for them.”
Another moment of silence is scheduled for this afternoon at 2:21 p.m.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)