BUFFALO, N.Y. — It was one year ago on February 14 when 17 students and teachers were shot dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Silence across the state at 10:17 a.m. Thursday marked the moment that small community was forever changed.
For many survivors, the struggle to bring any sense to the tragedy still goes on.
As for the students who've become leading voices in the fight for gun control, they have chosen to spend the day out of the spotlight to honor and pay tribute to those who were lost.
School safety has been in the forefront ever since that fateful day.
So we wanted to know, one year later, how students here in Western New York are feeling.
In partnership with the National Federation for Just Communities of Western New York, Maryalice Demler and Scott Levin spoke with three students earlier this week.
Scott: Destiny, it's been one year since the shooting. How has basically life, since the shooting a year ago?
Destiny: I feel like, it made me feel like I should be able to do something as well even if I'm just a student, I've entered college now. I might tell my friends, like everyone I know at the beginning of the year at college, like during our orientation like a lot of seminars, incoming freshman had taken. and everything and just become more aware. and I encouraged my friends to watch the news, and stay updated. and they encouraged everyone else as well.
Scott: So you haven't forgetten about this, you've made this a priority.
Scott: Ben, what about you? Has life changed for you since the shooting a year ago?
Ben: I think a lot of the activism that the students have done has really made a lot of people my age, a lot more aware and willing to look into these issues. when normally younger people wouldn't get involved with this kind of thing. so at least for the people I know, it's a lot more talking about it, spreading awareness about it, and actually doing research about these things instead of just talking saying whatever.
MAD: I want to dovetail something Ben you talked about after last year's shooting seeing some young people, really step forward on the national scene really and talk about their experience, um have you or have any of your classmates um, been more vocal either on social media or in social settings about the shooting or talking about that in general.
Ben: So alot of people, that I knew, I didn't understand really where they came from on these sorts of issues. And then after this happened and the more gun control discussions started to happen I really saw where people fell on both sides of the discussion. And it was interesting to see exactly how much more vocal people would be about it and how more willing they were to talk about it on any platform and not just with their friends. Or if they were part of something like they would go hunting with their family, they were much more vocal about supporting it. or if they knew someone who was impacted by gun violence. they were much more vocal about talking about it.
MAD: Charles, what do you think? Anything else, you think should be emphasized more whether it has to do with guns themsevles or training or safety or even mental health, or anything like that.
Charles: Uh, mostly just mental health in general, cause you could have an average day person that looks just like you that talks just like you, but you never know what that person thinks, what that person is going through at home, and what the person is going through at school, really you can have all the security in the world, but you don't know what goes on inside those walls.
Scott: Let me ask one final question, I asked this last year, what is it like today to be a young person with social media, and all the different pressures that are coming at you all day long, destiny, what is like to be a young person right now.
Destiny: stressful just because like what you see on the internet, everybody feels like it is the picture perfect thing, what to do, what to wear, like how to look like and everything, and even the celebrities try to like stress it's not important like everything on the internet. kids no matter what they are constantly on their phones, checking their twitter feed, checking their instagram feed, comparing themselves to others, and I feel like they shouldn't have to do that.
MAD: All great perspectives, thanks for sharing that it's been interesting to get your insight and to get your feelings. thank you for being so open.