High-school graduations are typically filled with great memories, joy and celebration. But Brooke Harrison, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school, sees it differently.
Harrison was a survivor of one of Americas’ largest school mass shootings in 2018.
“I was in the 1200 building, which is where the shooting happened,” stated Harrison. “I was on the first floor in room 1216… Eight people total were shot in my classroom. Everyone that was around me where I decided to try to hide was either shot or killed.”
Harrison witnessed three of her classmates’ deaths. Although she was fortunate to survive, she faced negative health conditions months later.
“Sophomore year was probably the worst for me, mental health-wise because I was still recovering from just witnessing everything I witnessed, being in the building,” shared Harrison.
Since then, the students have been hit by another trauma – the COVID-19 pandemic —which caused the world to shut down.
A former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Lauren Hogg, even moved to Washington, D.C to escape the traumatic memories. Hogg also took time during this milestone to reflect.
“It’s been awful,” she said. “Also, with everything else going on in the world, it’s compounded our trauma and the fact that we’re isolated makes it even worse. I didn’t get to see my friends, I didn’t get homecoming, and I just didn’t get the regular… senior high school stuff.”
The previous years have been a difficult experience for students like Harrison and Hogg, but even after everything, they choose to keep moving forward.
“I think reflection is necessary for me moving forward, because I think if I moved forward without reflecting on all the work that I’ve done, all the things that I’ve been through, it would just be putting all of those experiences to waste. And I cannot stand for that to happen,” shared Hogg
“It does feel like closing a chapter on my life and moving on to a better one,” concluded Harrison.