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This is what Stoneman Douglas High School looks like on survivors’ first day back

This is what Stoneman Douglas High School looks like on survivors’ first day back

Students were greeted with support and therapy animals.

For students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the site where 17 died at the hands of alleged mass shooter Nikolas Cruz, Wednesday was the first time many set foot in their classrooms in the two weeks since the shooting.

In the days leading up to the Parkland survivors’ arrival, high school principal Ty Thompson shared the faculty’s preparations on Twitter, writing that Wednesday’s focus would be on “emotional readiness,” not curriculum.

For several of these students—such as Emma González, whose tearful speech launched her and her peers’ movement March For Our Lives into virality; David Hogg, whose activism has been berated by right-wing conspiracy theorists, among them Infowars “truther” and mass-shooting denier Alex Jones; and Cameron Kasky, who held Florida Sen. Marco Rubio accountable at a CNN town hall for his donations received from the National Rifle Association—this day is exactly what they needed.

We send you thanks from my entire staff: that’s me at the top offering my hugs to the world! Thank you, we are #MSDStrong and check out that rainbow this morning! pic.twitter.com/RCXNMYSy1K

— Principal Thompson (@PrincipalMSD) February 26, 2018

Looking forward to tomorrow Eagles! Remember our focus is on emotional readiness and comfort not curriculum: so there is no need for backpacks. Come ready to start the healing process and #RECLAIMTHENEST 🦅🦅🦅🦅

— Principal Thompson (@PrincipalMSD) February 27, 2018

Several students prepared for the day back with a dose of inspiration from Marjory Stoneman Douglas herself, a suffragette who encouraged to “be a nuisance where it counts,” as well as inspiration from fellow students.

Matt Deitsch, an MSD student, shared a poem written by his sister and fellow student, 15-year-old Samantha, about the day of the shooting and the subsequent death of her friend Jamie Guttenberg, one of the 17 people killed.

Just a little reminder before we go back to school tomorrow ❤️ #NeverAgain #MarchForOurLives pic.twitter.com/TBCc2wlvLg

— Jaclyn Corin (@JaclynCorin) February 28, 2018

My sister turned 15 the day of the shooting.. She has had a hard time finding her voice in all of this and asked me to share this poem with you.

On the night before my sister returns to MSD, It would mean a lot if you could read her poem.#NeverAgain pic.twitter.com/3O4Z1knIuv

— Matt Deitsch (@MattxRed) February 28, 2018

Activist Kasky prepared for the day and followed up by sharing his feelings of excitement and love on Twitter.

I’ve never anticipated a 6:00 AM alarm more in my entire life.#Positive #Passionate #PROUD TO BE AN EAGLE

— Cameron Kasky (@cameron_kasky) February 28, 2018

Douglas is amazing. It’s hard to think about the 17 empty seats that will never truly be filled again, but Stoneman Douglas filled them with love today.

Everywhere. Love.

— Cameron Kasky (@cameron_kasky) February 28, 2018

Others reckoned with the idea that, despite this return to normalcy, nothing will be the same again. Several mourned the loss of Aaron Feis, an assistant football coach who died shielding students from gunfire. Students recalled waving to Feis every morning as he greeted them on their drive into the senior parking lot.

I pray that today is the beginning of our long and difficult journey from grief, sorrow and anger to a new consciousness of hope, compassion and love. Thank you to our young people for leading the way. Welcome Back! #MSDStrong #NeverAgain pic.twitter.com/ytCNfMxwSe

— Supt Runcie (@RobertwRuncie) February 28, 2018

The door I used to walk through every day now covered in a memorial. Welcome back, eagles. pic.twitter.com/ylJhp0gaAk

— Alex Wind (@al3xw1nd) February 28, 2018

Thank you to everyone who came out from all over to welcome the students back to school! Thank you to the faculty, staff and administration for working to get the students back to school! We are blessed to have such a wonderful and supportive community. #ReclaimTheNest #MSDStrong pic.twitter.com/2PZMywU5A6

— ChristineHunschofsky (@CHunschofsky) February 28, 2018

I waved to Coach Feis every morning when I drove into the senior lot, yet I didn't even know his name until he died. Today, after 4 years, I asked my crossing guard her name. Please let the people around you know how thankful you are. Thank you Coach Feis & thank you Barbara❣️

— carly (@car_nove) February 28, 2018

https://twitter.com/ohstephany_/status/968675411172478976

And then, there was the “emotional readiness,” with students on campus tweeting about the support they received on their first day back—including cookies and therapy animals (like a goat!).

There’s a literal goat on campus

— Lex (@lexforchange) February 28, 2018

“We got so much cookies I’m gonna start bleeding chocolate” – Mr Simpson, 2018

— Lex (@lexforchange) February 28, 2018

A three legged greyhound just came into my class. I’m in love.

— Sarah Chadwick// #NEVERAGAIN (@sarahchad_) February 28, 2018

These dogs are so freakin helpful I’m in love pic.twitter.com/adxHvviRmR

— Connor Dietrich// #NEVERAGAIN (@CDietrich1007) February 28, 2018

Fluffer pic.twitter.com/e2XHuCSCFQ

— Lex (@lexforchange) February 28, 2018

The only thing getting me through today are the dogs. pic.twitter.com/IyPvOYcQ3b

— Jose Iglesias // #NEVERAGAIN (@Joseforchange) February 28, 2018

This was just one of many photos taken today! Thanks to the therapy dogs; they have been a major source of healing for my Eagles!🦅🦅 pic.twitter.com/s6pRKDEuAq

— Principal Thompson (@PrincipalMSD) February 28, 2018

My first period class with our borrowed therapy dog, Woody. pic.twitter.com/NcRkd2E9CA

— Sarah Lerner, CJE #NeverAgain (@mrs_lerner) February 28, 2018

And while the students’ return to normalcy meant easing back with some semblance of comfort, politicians such as Tallahassee, Florida Mayor Andrew Gillum and Democratic Florida Sen. Bill Nelson recognized this was no “day off” from the students’ original call—to prevent a mass shooting like this from ever happening again.

There are some of us who choose to fight the NRA instead. Best wishes as you return to school today.

— Andrew Gillum (@AndrewGillum) February 28, 2018

Thinking of everyone at Marjory Stoneman Douglas as they return to school today. Your courage and determination in wake of this tragedy has been tremendous; and we are all with you as you return to class today. #NeverAgain

— Bill Nelson (@SenBillNelson) February 28, 2018

H/T the Cut

Samantha Grasso is an IRL staff writer for the Daily Dot with a reporting emphasis on immigration. Her work has appeared on Los Angeles Magazine, Death And Taxes, Revelist, Texts From Last Night, Austin Monthly, and she has previously contributed to Texas Monthly.

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For students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the site where 17 died at the hands of alleged mass shooter Nikolas Cruz, Wednesday was the first time many set foot in their classrooms in the two weeks since the shooting.