Ashley Arinus is a senior business administration major. She graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2014.
As I sit down and try to put my thoughts into words, I realize that I truly do not know what to say. I don’t believe any of us know what to say or what to make of the situation. Parkland is home. It is the safest city in Florida. It is a small, tight-knit community where most individuals have gone to the same schools together all the way from pre-school to high school; some ultimately come back to raise a family. We visit the same pediatricians, live in the same few gated communities and country clubs. We attend the same synagogue or church and belong to the same clubs. I am so proud to have grown up in Parkland and to have had the opportunity to graduate from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
You see, most people do not even know where Parkland is. It is a small, peaceful escape from giant South Florida. When asked where I’m from, I always say, “a city between Coral Springs and Boca.” Now, everyone will know exactly where Parkland and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are.
However, they have not yet learned what we are made of. Parkland is a city full of opportunity and Stoneman Douglas High School has molded me into the person I am today. According to US News, it is one of the best high schools in the state, not only academically, but with high-quality of teachers, faculty and staff, sports programs, and resources. It is a place of learning for some of the brightest individuals and students to further educate and send out into the world.
What happened the other day was unimaginable here. However, our Broward County teachers, faculty, hospitals, law enforcement and first-responders could not have been any more prepared. Based on information provided by news outlets like CNN and BBC News we have learned of individuals such as teachers Aaron Feis, Scott Beigel, Chris Hixon and 15-year-old student Peter Wang, who sacrificed their lives to save others. As an alumna of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, I can confidently say I am not the least bit surprised that these staff members would make the ultimate sacrifice, because that is just who they were.
Many individuals are so desensitized to school shootings and to violence in this country because it happens all too often. Friends and individuals unrelated to the community have been asking all the wrong questions or tying this horrible event into all the wrong political platforms. News reporters and photographers have been imposing on private services to record spoken words from victims’ families and hide in bushes during burials to take photos. I have even seen my own father’s picture from a funeral on the news.
“Do not hide that eagle pride.”
This tragedy has affected all of us. It has taken the life of a special person who I am close to, who my family is close to, and of countless individuals who have had major impacts on this community. It has taken the lives and unlimited potential away from unbelievably young children. However, it has also provided the city of Parkland and the alumni and students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School an opportunity to enforce change.
Parkland is home to some of the most successful and influential individuals. It includes doctors and first responders, powerful lawyers, federal agents, law enforcement, entrepreneurs, important elected officials, and professional athletes. If anyone can make a change, it is those from Parkland. The people of Parkland and the families of the victims — and in fact, young survivors themselves — are already pushing change and will not sleep until it is done. We will enforce change, these brave survivors will enforce change, and we will be the community to provide this nation an opportunity to say #NeverAgain. We are one. We are #DouglasStrong. “Do not hide that eagle pride.”
If you would like to help support victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, the Broward Sheriff’s Office has asked that contributors visit www.gofundme.com/stonemandouglasvictimsfund, warning that supporters should avoid the many fraudulent accounts that have been created. Blood donations are also needed. NSU students and faculty can donate blood aboard any of the One Blood buses on campus.
Additionally, the Broward Sheriff’s Office has announced that anyone who is feeling overwhelmed by this tragedy may dial 2-1-1 to speak with a helpline counselor. NSU students can call the Henderson Student Counseling Center crisis hotline at any time by calling 954-262-6911 or schedule an appointment with counselor by calling 954-262-7050.