‘Not scared’: Students return to classes after Florida school massacre
Students made an emotional return Wednesday to Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where they were greeted by heavy security and well-wishers bearing flowers, two weeks on from a shooting, which killed 17 people.
“I’m not scared,” said 16-year-old Sean Cummings as he prepared to resume classes with his fellow students.
“It’s just weird to come back after everything that has happened.”
Neighbours along with pupils from other schools and Marjory Stoneman Douglas alumni waved at the teenagers and gave them encouragement as they entered the campus.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School reopened most of its doors for about 3,000 students at 7.40 am EST (1240 GMT) for a half-day schedule. The building where most of the victims died will remain closed indefinitely.
Nicholas Rodrigues, 15, a freshman who lives in Coral Springs with his parents and two sisters, said he walked the mile to school on Wednesday rather than ride his Black Mongoose bicycle because “wanted to think about things.”
School buses arrived shortly after 7 am, with several hundred police officers on hand to escort students, who wore the school’s colours of burgundy and white, to make them feel safe.
Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jamie was killed in the massacre, said he was not afraid for his surviving son, also a student at Douglas, because it is now the safest school in America.
“But [it’s] bittersweet because my son walks in here without his sister,” Guttenberg told CNN on Wednesday. “This is not what we envisioned for ourselves watching our kids go through high school.”
On Valentine’s Day, former student Nikolas Cruz entered the school and opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle, killing 14 students and three staff members.
Since the shooting, Stoneman students have been lobbying politicians for stricter gun controls both in their home state of Florida and in Washington.
Republican lawmakers, with majorities in the US and Florida legislatures, have been cool on bringing in major reforms on the sales of firearms.
Pressure, however, is growing on businesses.
On Wednesday, Dick’s Sporting Goods, a large chain store selling sporting and hunting items, announced that it would immediately stop selling assault-style rifles and would not sell guns to anyone under the age of 21.