Tragedy has an innate way of touching all of us, especially when it strikes at the heart of what we value. Among the things we value, education, opportunity, life, freedom, and security are perhaps the most treasured. And yet, it was these pivotal values that were suddenly and violently taken away from 17 innocent people on Valentine’s Day of 2018 in a Florida high school.
Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL
A normal day at school was forever transformed when 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School at 2:21 PM and began randomly firing multiple rounds from a legally purchased AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. A fire alarm was sounded just a moment later, and 911 calls began to flood into the local dispatcher.
Amid confusion between law enforcement officials, school administration, faculty, and students, 17 innocent people were killed and 17 more were wounded, some attempting to shield students and classmates from harm. Students texted and called parents and friends, informing them of the ongoing carnage before it was all over at 2:27 PM. Cruz then abandoned his weapon and exited the school building heading west on foot. He was apprehended shortly after as he walked calmly through a nearby residential neighborhood.
Academy of Art University Blanket Becomes a “Quilt of Love”
True to the ethos of Academy of Art University‘s home in San Francisco, faculty, staff, and students wanted to show an expression of support to those at Stoneman Douglas High as they finally returned to classes on February 28. A blanket from Academy of Art University was displayed in the lobby of one the college’s busiest buildings, and students were asked to write a personal message, sketch some art, or simply sign their name to show their support. “Let the people at the school (Stoneman Douglas) know that their experience touched you, and that you care,” a university spokesperson instructed any students who wished to add to the piece.
The blanket will be displayed at Stoneman Douglas High School along with other expressions of sympathy and support from all across the nation. Officials from the high school requested posters and banners from people across the country to display on campus to show their staff, students, and community that there are good people out there who care about them.
Many Academy of Art University students and alumni are from Florida communities as well as dozens of other cities, states, and nations from around the world. The student body wanted to send a message that no matter where we are from, random violence against innocents is deplored by all and they stand with those who have been forever changed by this experience. The dead are being buried and those wounded will heal; but the memories of that day will forever shape the thoughts and choices of everyone involved.