Broward Students Take Part In 'Day of Service And Love'

Feb 14, 2019

In Broward County, Valentine’s Day will never be the same.

On the one-year anniversary of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, teachers across Broward were determined not to focus on the shooting that killed 17 students on Feb. 14, 2018.

At Seminole Middle School, about 30 minutes from Marjory Stoneman Douglas, teacher Andrea McNiven guided students in activities for the district’s newly-designated "Day of Service and Love." Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie requested lessons about peace and love.

“We are not discussing the tragedy, because there are many students who have been affected,” McNiven said.

Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas weren’t required in class.

During the official Day of Service and Love, the entire district fell silent at 10:17 a.m., the time of the shooting, as students and staff bowed their heads to remember those lost.

Seminole eighth-grader Sidney Todd used to dance with one of the victims of the shooting, 14-year-old Cara Loughran, at Coral Spring’s Drake School of Irish Dance.

Seminole Middle School student Sidney Todd knew one of the Parkland victims. She participates in the Broward County Public School's Day of Service and Love on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019.
Credit Lily Oppenheimer / WLRN

“All over my Instagram feed there were tons of missing people who went to that school,” she said. “It was sad to see all of the missing people with families waiting for their missing kids.”

On Thursday, she sat in a group in McNiven’s classroom. Everyone’s assignment was to brainstorm ways to brighten other students’ days, then take turns scribbling those ideas on the front whiteboard.

“We’re coming up with these random acts of kindness that we could help people with, if they’re having a bad day, or if we feel like someone would need some help,” she said.

Seminole Middle School students in Plantation honor the victims of the Parkland shooting during the Broward County Public School's Day of Service and Love on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019.
Credit Lily Oppenheimer / WLRN

Another student, Shelby Shefferman, said she thought school officials could be doing more to improve safety. While teachers like McNiven are now trained to handle a code-red active shooter situation, there is only one guard on-site. 

Students are now also required to wear ID badges wherever they go, but this "doesn't really do much." 

"People are walking around everyday with no IDs on," Shefferman said. "And [school officials will] be like, 'go to the office.' But I feel like they should do more."  

Seminole Middle School also unveiled a new mural, painted and designed by Aaron Booker, a former student-turned-substitute teacher.

His mural is called the “Symphony of Brotherhood: We Sound Better When We Come Together.”

He said when he went to Seminole years ago, there was barely any security.

“When I was a kid, people could just walk up -- right into the school,” he said. “Now everything is very meticulous. It’s about being secure, about making sure that the kids are safe. They feel safe.”

The "Symphony of Sound" mural was unveiled at Seminole Middle School during the one-year mark of the Parkland shooting on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019.
Credit Lily Oppenheimer / WLRN