From grieving survivors to outspoken advocates for gun reform, the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas captured the world’s attention in the aftermath of the deadliest high school shooting in the United States.
In between funerals for 14 classmates and three adult teachers, memorial services, and vigils by candlelight, the teenagers, and some of their parents, faced off with elected senators on national television, travelled more than 800 miles to confront Florida’s lawmakers in the state’s capital and directly challenged the powerful National Rifle Association, fervent upholders of the constitutional “right of the people to keep and bear arms”.
Tens of thousands of students at high schools across the country walked out of lessons in solidarity. Celebrities including George Clooney, Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey donated millions of dollars to support a nationwide March for Our Lives next month to protest against gun violence. And Stoneman Douglas students and their families joined parents of the victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting to meet with Donald Trump at the White House and renew calls for action on gun reform.
On Wednesday, exactly two weeks after the Parkland tragedy, students will return to their classes and attempt to rebuild lives and futures shattered by what one teenager called “17 shots right to the heart of this community”. But the young adults who have sparked a youth protest movement in the US drawing comparison with the revolt against the Vietnam war are steadfast in their determination to press forward with their campaign and bring an end to school shootings.