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Stoneman Douglas Alumni Return Home To Support Their Community And To Grieve

Jessica Bakeman
Hundreds showed up for an anti-gun violence rally in Parkland. Some in attendance were alumni who returned home to be with their community.

Since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, alumni from around the country are coming back home.

They say in this painful moment for their community they have to be present.

Chelsea Tyrell graduated from Stoneman Douglas High in 2016. When she heard about the shooting at her alma mater she drove from the University of North Florida with her golden retriever.

"I thought I'd bring along my 6-year-old golden retriever who's certified as a therapy dog to just come out here if anyone needs any comfort," she said.

Her friend Catherine Crocker booked a flight from Atlanta the day after one of the deadliest shootings in U.S. schools' history.

"I just came to be with my family and hug them," said Crocker, a former cheerleader who graduated last year, 

She said Christopher Hixon, the school’s athletic director who was killed in the shooting, had a big heart. 

"He loved the cheerleading team. He gave me my varsity letter personally," she recalled. 

The former students say they will show up for their community in any way they can and support the current students who survived the horrific massacre. 

Kaylyn Piptone, a student at the University of South Florida, also returned to Parkland shortly after the shooting. 

"These kids are my family and they have started the 'Never Again' movement and they are going to change the world," she said of the survivors who have emerged as anti-gun activists.

Piptone says even when she returns  to school, she plans to continue supporting the survivors-turned-activists.

WLRN reporter Jessica Bakeman contributed to this report.

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