PARKLAND (CBSMiami) – Students and faculty in schools across South Florida paused Friday to remember the 17 people who died in the Parkland school shooting two years ago today.
Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie called the day one of “Service and Love.” He called today a time for the public school family and community to come together to honor those lost lives.
At 10:17 a.m., a moment of silence was held at schools across Broward and Miami-Dade counties including North Lauderdale Pre-K-8 where students and faculty also stopped to honor firefighters and sheriffs deputies with a handmade Valentine’s breakfast.
One of their service projects included harvesting their school garden growing strawberries, kale and carrots.
“It really allows students to understand that strawberries do not come from Publix, collard greens do not come from Publix they come from gardens. We want them to know they can maintain themselves and sustain themselves by growing their own food,” said Principal Nichele Williams.
The tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas reaches far and wide, including at this school.
Parkland student Helena Ramsey, one of the 17 people killed two years ago, is the niece of the teacher who maintains the garden at North Lauderdale Pre-K-8.
Principal Williams says there is healing in that garden.
“She wanted to continue with love and compassion and honor so this garden has really been agri-therapy for her. We want students to understand that our lives can be different, a single thing can happen and our lives can be different but what’s important is to continue to move and move through but move through with love,” said Williams.
Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High are being released early Friday to participate in volunteer service projects.
Mental health staff and therapy dogs are also on hand for students and staff.
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“This tragedy will forever be with us,” Runcie told reporters Friday morning, “but as a community, I can tell you, the students have expressed a tremendous amount of courage, resiliency.”
Runcie says more than 100 million dollars has been invested in safety and security measures in Florida public schools since the shooting.
Like any school shooting, the Parkland tragedy irreparably altered the community in which it took place. However, the impact of the school, its students, and the friends and family members of the victims was felt far beyond South Florida. That is because many of the survivors immediately began speaking out and confronting lawmakers about gun control reform.