The following article was written by my daughter for her high school school paper. As fate would have it, her cousin is a freshman at Stoneman Douglas high School. Needless to say, the names have been changed. Story By Olivia Ross
Wednesday, February 14th 2018; This day is widely celebrated as Valentine’s day; a day dedicated to send and share love. For Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, It was a lot more than that. 17 innocent people were murdered in a place that was supposed to be safe and secure.
Olivia Tabano was present in the madness and saw it through her own eyes. She is currently a freshman attending MSD High School. She was located in the freshman building that was targeted by the shooter. Luckily, Olivia made it out in time.
Olivia recently moved to Parkland Florida no more than a year ago. On Tuesday, February 13th, she was looking forward to celebrating Valentine’s day in school with her peers. She attended water polo practice and completed her homework just like any other student would. The following day, Olivia woke up, got prepared for school and continued with her day.
During her 2nd period class, there was a fire drill. No one thought anything of it. Just like every school in America, MSD is required to have their monthly safety drills. After this drill concluded, everyone went back to class and proceeded to work through the school day. Everything was completely normal.
Later on, during her 4th period class, Olivia was in the midst of taking a test when there was yet another fire drill. At first, everyone thought it was normal since the school is so large. The students proceeded to go outside and line up against the freshmen building.
“Until one teacher told us to run”.
She sprinted all the way to the local Walmart, where the killer was allegedly found and captured by the police.
“That day changed my life. Everything is different now,”.
The next day she woke up to discover that one of her best friends, Peter Wang, and her swim team captain, Nicholas Dworet, were killed by the shooter. “We went to several vigils and I still couldn’t process what happened”.
Peter Wang was last seen holding the door of the freshmen building open, helping his fellow peers get to safety. Wang had dreamed of becoming a soldier and in his death, he was honored with an invitation to join their ranks. He would’ve been in the West Point class of 2025.
Nicholas Dworet was a senior at Memorial Stoneman Douglas High School. He had been accepted to swim on the University of Indianapolis’ swim team. Dworet had dreams of competing in the 2020 Olympics for his swimming talents. He was always looked at as the “big brother” figure who gave and received so much love from his friends, family and girlfriend, Daria.
Once the students returned to school, the week consisted of half days, trauma/grief counselors, and therapy dogs attempting to aid the students and staff of the high school. They were trying their best to make them feel safe again.
“As of right now, we are still easing into our “new normal”. We haven’t necessarily done too much of anything differently because it’s too soon to start anything new,”.
The school continues with minimal work and a huge focus on grieving and coping from the situation together.
In order to ensure maximum security on campus, the school has had twice the amount of security officials patrolling the school grounds. The school has also been a lot stricter with bathroom passes.
The teachers are attempting to be there for the students and each other but they are suffering damage themselves and have been very quiet. In Olivia’s classes, the teachers aren’t really teaching much for the time being and are taking things step by step as everyone slowly recovers.
“My life outside of school has changed completely,” says Olivia, “When everything first happened my schedule was filled with vigils, group counseling and funerals. The two weeks we were out of school my friends and I got together very often because we just wanted be around each other,”.
Olivia, along with the rest of the students and staff of Memorial Stoneman Douglas High School, continue to heal from this horrible tragedy by coming together and supporting each other. “Being around people that experienced the same trauma makes everything more comfortable”.