Alumni of the south Florida high school where 17 students and staff were killed in a Feb. 14 shooting held a candlelight vigil in Chastain Park Feb. 16 to remember the victims.
The vigil drew around 40 people who said they were former students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, some of whom graduated a few years ago and some decades ago. They told stories of the staff members who were killed, praised the sense of the community the school created, and demanded action on gun control.
A Facebook group for school alumni created in the wake of the shooting has been used to help organize vigils across the county and spurred the Buckhead vigil, said Evan Goldberg, a Buckhead resident who helped organize the event.
“People have been really upset,” Goldberg said.
The alumni, many wearing school attire, stood in circle surrounding 17 candles in honor of the 17 people that were killed, and spoke about memories they made at the school and the sadness they felt following the shooting before releasing 17 balloons.
Several people said they felt the shooting was a call to action for them to push for gun control measures.
“It’s time to take action,” Jennia Taylor said. “I’m tired of hearing this in the news.”
Another alum said gun control had not been an important issue to her until the shooting, but she is now considering going to event to advocate for new measures.
“I’ve never really thought about gun control until the past two days,” she said.
“Seeing what has happened to all these kids is just really heartbreaking,” another alum said. “I just want to see a change. It has to stop.”
Others spoke about their fear and sadness when they realized their children could have been the students killed or injured in the shooting had they not moved away from Parkland, Florida to Atlanta.
“That could have been my child and I’m devastated by it,” one attendee said.
Several people at the vigil remarked on how the vigil allowed them to reconnect with former classmates they had not seen in years, including Megan Flynn, who graduated from the school in 2003.
Flynn encouraged those at the vigil to continue telling stories about teachers and students as a way to heal and remember them.
“I’m amazed at how many Douglas alumni live in Atlanta,” another alum said.