In an act of senseless violence that shook the nation, 17 children and teachers lost their lives to gun violence on February 14 at a high school in Parkland, Florida.
In the months following the school shooting, student survivors have been a beacon of light in the fight for justice for their friends and for other victims of gun violence.
But sometimes, kids just want to be kids. And such was the case when Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School celebrated prom at the Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort earlier this month.
Their classmates have not forgotten the beautiful lives that were snuffed out too soon, and at prom this year, students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas made sure to honor all those who could not be there.
They wanted to commemorate their friends’ lives and keep their memories alive, and they chose collective and individual ways to do so.
For example, during the event, the school had 17 seconds of silence to honor the 17 people who were murdered.
They also released butterflies at the end of the night in memory of those children and teachers, according to Teen Vogue.
Four seniors were killed in the attack. Carmen Schentrup, Nicholas Dworet, Meadow Pollack and Joaquin Oliver missed their senior prom because of the senseless killings.
Their friends, teachers and classmates remembered them in this special way at the dance:
— Ty Thompson (@Ty_Thompson71) May 6, 2018
On an individual scale, friends also made small tokens in their loved ones’ memories.
For example, Carley Ogozaly picked a dress with her friend Meadow Pollack in mind.
“This dress is completely Meadow — her whole family and friends have confirmed that,” she told the Miami Herald, referring to the pink prom gown she wore. (She is on the far left in the below Instagram image.) “And that’s why I’m wearing it today. Because Meadow couldn’t.”
Marjory Stoneman Douglas class president Julia Cordover explained that prom was part of their healing process and a way to deal with the incredible grief they have been battling for months.
“With all the grief and healing we’ve been doing, it’s another way to take in the reality of everything,” she told NBC News. “It’s not necessarily a celebration, but also a remembrance.”
What a wonderful way to honor the people whose lives were ripped from them due to gun violence, and to foster a spirit of healing and community among these brave students. MSD Strong!
In the weeks since the school’s prom, there have been other subtle reminders and milestones, including Mother’s Day.
Many applauded the Coral Springs Police Department for a letter they posted to the mother’s of the shooting victims.
The department wrote: “Not a day has gone by since your unimaginable loss that we, the men and women of the Coral Springs Police Department, have not thought of you and the countless other families that were forever changed on that horrific day.”
You can read the department’s full message below:
— Coral Springs Police (@CoralSpringsPD) May 13, 2018
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly listed Stoneman Douglas shooting victim Helena Ramsay, a high school junior, as the fourth senior honored at prom. Victim Joaquin Oliver was the fourth senior honored. We regret the error.