For most people, high school graduation is a time of joy and celebration. But for students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., this weekend’s graduation was bittersweet.
In February, 17 people were killed in a school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas. As CNN reported, four of the victims — Nicholas Dworet, Joaquin Oliver, Meadow Pollack, and Carmen Schentrup — were seniors who would have been a part of the school’s class of 2018.
During the graduation ceremony on Sunday, students and faculty at Marjory Stoneman Douglas honored the four lost seniors, as well as two other members of the student class whose cause of death was unrelated to the shooting, NBC News reported.
Dworet’s parents told NBC News that their son’s friends wore his name on their graduation caps in his honor. The outlet reported that Dworet had planned to attend the University of Indianapolis on a full swimming scholarship. The grieving parents also told NBC News that their son’s childhood friend and classmate Alexandra Greenwald was accepting his diploma at the graduation ceremony.
One senior, Amanda Edwards-Berlingeri, explained her mixed feelings about graduation to NBC News. “It kind of hurts to graduate because you’re graduating and everyone is supposed to be in on this together, and now you don’t have four people that are supposed to be with you,” Edwards-Berlingeri told the outlet.
And while the students are no longer living, their families have created scholarships and nonprofit organizations in their honor. The lost seniors won’t get to attend college, as many of their classmates will, but their legacies will live on through the charitable programs.
— David Hogg (@davidhogg111) June 3, 2018
The surviving seniors also honored their fellow classmates by wearing graduation sashes that read “MSD Strong” at the ceremony, the Hill noted.
School shootings are unfortunately all too common in the United States. But the Parkland students have gained national attention because of their resilience and activism in the wake of tragedy. The students organized the March for Our Lives protest in March, and many Marjory Stoneman Douglas students have become outspoken proponents for gun control. Some Parkland students also honored their lost classmates at their prom.
School shootings aren’t something anyone should have to live through, but the Parkland students continued to inspire people across the country at their graduation ceremony.
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