#MSDStrong Alumnus, Former Teacher Learns the Strength of Community
“Nobody should have to live like this. Nobody should have to die like this.” These words rang through my ears as I stood in a crowd of grieving families, angry students, and concerned students in Parkland the day after an awful school shooting.
As a lifetime resident of the Parkland community, I’m a former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSD) and worked there during my college years at Florida Atlantic University as an interim/temporary teacher. I’ve always known my school was special, producing some amazing minds and being surrounded by such a supportive and powerful community. In fact, I owe a lot of my success as an educator to the high standards and rigorous challenges that I learned from my years at MSD. Teaching strategies that shaped me as a young MSD Eagle, I use to this day with my own students.
On Valentine’s Day 2018, my wife and I just happened to be picking up our daughter from day care, one block over from Stoneman Douglas, when we were suddenly caught up in what appeared to be a war zone. Armored cars, helicopters, an army of emergency services, and an armed SWAT team stormed the school I love so much right before my eyes. My first thoughts were of my colleagues in the school and of course the 3000-plus children. As I saw them run to safety as I collected my daughter, I thought to myself, Why is fate leading this to happen here? This always happens somewhere else. Why my school?
In time, I had to accept that this did happen here. As the days rolled on, and along with them the vigils, the CNN Town Hall, and the March for Our Lives, we saw the rise of a powerful movement of students calling for change. It was a horrible thing that happened there, but it couldn’t have happened to a better community—a community ready to band together and take positive action in their grief. There needs to be a change—I won’t discuss what that might be, but we cannot allow this to keep happening. The students of MSD have risen up and shown the world what Eagle pride is all about.
I’ve always known Stoneman Douglas was a special school, sending amazing and powerful minds out into the world, but the school has always been largely unknown to the outside world. That all changed on Valentine’s Day, as seventeen Eagles fell, and many more rose to action supported by hundreds of MSD alumni and millions more around the world. Now the world will see what happens when our Eagles soar for change, because nobody should have to live like this and nobody should have to die like this.
It can be hard for parents to talk to their children about tragedies in today’s headlines. Visit Helping Students Cope with Tragedy in the News for advice from a school counselor about how you can best support your kids emotionally and help them feel safe.
Today’s special guest blogger is Jason Agins, a teacher at International Connections Academy and a graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.