Four Years Later: Remembering Marjory Stoneman Douglas High

Amy-Grace Shapiro, Feature Editor

Four years ago, a day filled with love, joy and happiness turned tragic when 17 people — including 14 students and three faculty members — lost their lives on Feb. 14, 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. 

In the years since the shooting, the Parkland community and those surrounding it have not remained silent. Instead, they have taken action, displaying their love and support for the victims and their families.  

Teens from MSD created organizations such as “Never Again MSD” and “March for Our Lives,” which stemmed from the online hashtag #NeverAgain and soon developed into #MarchForOurLives, a gun violence demonstration held on Mar. 24, 2018 in Washington, D.C. This movement later became one of the largest organized protests condemning gun violence.   

The “March for Our Lives” protest helped catalyze other gun control movements, and since then, states across the country have enacted 50 new laws restricting access to guns. Most notably, Vermont, previously known for its loose gun control laws, passed several measures to tighten its legislation, including a ban on guns in K-12 school campuses, a red-flag law, a law expanding background checks and bans on high-capacity magazines.

These organizations along with many others founded after the shooting reflect the love found within the Parkland community and the desire to create positive change after tragedy. 

To commemorate those whose lives were lost, here are the stories of the 17 victims of the shooting and members of the Parkland family…

Alyssa Alhadeff, 14

Freshman and soccer player Alyssa Alhadeff is remembered for her fiery attitude and dedication to living life to the fullest. Alhadeff had a passion for playing soccer and hoped to play in college with the dream of one day making it to the U.S. Women’s National Team. Following the shooting, her mother, Lori Alhadeff, won a seat on the county’s school board and fights daily to “Make Our Schools Safe” through her non-profit organization. In a letter written to her daughter shared on Dear World, One World Strong Alhadeff says she wishes she could have taken all the bullets for her daughter and angrily called out the president and begged for change on national television. 

Martin Duque Anguiano, 14

Freshman Martin Duque Anguiano, the son of Mexican immigrants, was a proud member of the U.S. Army Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps with dreams of becoming a Navy SEAL. He received the U.S. Army’s Medal of Heroism succeeding his death, after putting his classmate’s lives before his own and ushering many to safety. In a GoFundMe page created by his brother, Miguel Duque noted his brother was a very funny kid, outgoing and loved by his family. In an Instagram post, Miguel wrote, “Words cannot describe my pain. You’ll be missed, buddy. I know you’re in a better place.” 

Jaime Guttenberg, 14

Jaime Guttenberg was a freshman with a passion for dance who dreamed of being a mother and an occupational therapist. Her father, Fred Guttenberg, was overcome with emotion as he spoke of her death the next day at a vigil, saying his job was to protect his children and that he failed to do so when he sent his kid to school. Fred later founded Orange Ribbons in honor of Jamie; it donates to important causes supported by the family. 

Cara Loughran, 14

Freshman Cara Loughran smiled at everyone she met and was known for her bubbly personality and kindness. After the shooting, dancers at her Irish dance studio, as well as Irish dance schools around the country, wore purple ribbons in honor of Loughran and her favorite color. Her aunt, Lindsay Fontana, wrote a Facebook post thanking the community for their thoughts and prayers but begged everyone to fight for change.  

Gina Montalto, 14

Gina Montalto was a smart, loving, caring and strong girl who brightened any room she entered, noted by her mother, Jennifer Montalto, on Facebook. Montalto was a Girl Scout, a church volunteer, a soccer player and a member of the school’s marching band’s Winter Color Guard. On Montalto’s GoFundMe page, her parents shared that she loved to cook during the holiday season and was an avid reader of  “Harry Potter,” “The Hunger Games” and “Wonder Woman.” She also loved shopping and fashion. Following their daughter’s passing, Montalto’s parents created The Gina Rose Montalto Memorial Foundation, which helps students with the costs of postsecondary education in her memory. 

Alex Schachter, 14

Only four years old when he lost his mother, Alex Schachter was known as a sweetheart who moved to Parkland because his father loved the idyllic environment and community it offered. Neither of them imagined an event like this happening. Schacter played the trombone in the marching band and orchestra. Following his death, Schacter was laid to rest in the same cemetery as his mother. 

Alaina Petty, 14

Alaina Petty was a vibrant and determined young woman who loved to serve her community as a member of ROTC and as part of the Helping Hand’s program with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She also volunteered at the cleanup of the Florida Keys after Hurricane Irma. After her death, Petty was awarded the U.S. Army’s Medal of Heroism. Although her parents will never have the opportunity to watch their daughter grow up, they are keeping her in their perspective and believe they will reunite with her, the family said in an interview.

Peter Wang, 15

Peter Wang was an Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadet with a goal of attending the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Wang died in his JROTC uniform after multiple bullets struck him while  trying to help his classmates escape. Wang died a hero in his study hall class, putting others before himself. West Point officials called him a brave young man, and he was posthumously granted admission due to his heroic actions; he was also awarded the U.S. Army’s Medal of Heroism. 

Luke Hoyer, 15

When freshman Luke Hoyer stepped out of the car on Feb. 14, “I love you too, Mom” were the last words his mother would ever hear him say. According to his aunt, Joan Cox, Hoyer spent a significant amount of time with his mother and considered him to be a “momma’s boy” with a contagious laugh and infectious smile. Hoyer was known for his love of playing basketball and appreciation for chicken nuggets. 

Carmen Schentrup, 16

A standout student and National Merit Scholarship semifinalist, Carmen Schentrup was a dedicated, straight A student determined to change the world, as her parents noted in a Facebook post. Although Schentrup will not live to see the impact of her legacy, she became a National Merit Finalist the day after she died.  Schentrup dreamed of becoming a medical scientist and discovering a cure for diseases like ASL. She was accepted to the University of Florida Honors Program, exuberant to begin her college experience. The teen found her passion in reading books and loved art and music, playing piano, violin and guitar while also singing in the church choir.

Nicholas Dworet, 17

Senior Nicholas Dworet lost his life one month shy of his 18th birthday. Dworet had Olympic ambitions, committing to the University of Indianapolis’s swim team and earning an academic scholarship, a step towards his 2020 Tokyo Olympic goals. On the day he would have become an adult, Dworet’s classmates marked his birthday at the March for Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C.

Joaquin Oliver, 17

Joaquin Oliver moved to the U.S. from Venezuela when he was three years old. He had an affinity for poetry and played basketball in a city recreational league. The teen was buried in NBA player Dwyane Wade’s jersey. His family later started a nonprofit organization called “Change the Ref,” a platform inspired by their son in part to educate and empower youth in the movement to end gun violence. After his son’s death, Manuel Oliver said politicians did not want to discuss gun control, which he described as the victims’ parents’ main issue. Creating “Change the Ref” was a way to make a connection between the action needed to take place in both basketball calls and gun violence advocacy.  

Helena Ramsay, 17

Only 17 years old the day of her death, Helena Ramsay was kind-hearted, thoughtful, brilliant and witty, according to a relative’s Facebook post. Ramsay loved everybody and everybody loved her and, although reserved, she had a relentless drive to succeed academically and make the most of her education. Ramsay participated in First Priority Club and Model United Nations, where she represented her home country of England. 

Meadow Pollack, 18

18-year-old Meadow Pollack had plans of attending Lynn University after high school and, as noted by her loved ones, was a beautiful girl, inside and out. Pollack was the youngest of 10 grandchildren and was known as the baby of the family. Over 1,000 individuals attended Pollack’s funeral, including Gov. Rick Scott, U.S. Representative Ted Deutch and County Commissioner Michael Udine. Pollock’s father, during his daughter’s funeral service, held at Temple Kol Tikvah in Parkland, mouthed words of anger at his daughter’s killer. 

Scott Beigel, 35

Geography teacher and cross-country coach Scott Beigel died while saving others, as he was shot unlocking a classroom door in an attempt to bring in students stranded outside in the hallway during the gunfire. Unable to get to safety in time, Beigel died a hero protecting his students. During his summers, Beigel worked as a counselor at Starlight Summer Camp.

Aaron Feis, 37

Assistant school football coach since 2002 and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School graduate class of 1999, Aaron Feis died running toward the gunfire, trying to shield students. Feis died at 37 from gunshot wounds after being rushed into surgery. His players remember him as a hero, putting everyone else’s lives before his own. 

Chris Hixon, 49

Chris Hixon, Parkland’s athletic director and head wrestling coach, was the epitome of who an athletic director was meant to be, always putting his students before himself. Hixon was previously named Broward County Athletic Director of the Year and was also a member of the U.S. Navy Reserve, having served in Iraq in 2007. Hixon was fatally injured after he raced to the scene trying to help injured students.