Graduation is supposed to be a time when one chapter ends and a new one begins. It’s just not that simple for the class of 2018 at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School.
“In the past couple of months we’ve had to grow up in a multitude of ways that we never would’ve had to and that we never thought we would’ve had to,” said senior Suzanna Barna.
The seniors say everything is colored by the monumental tragedy their school endured.
“I think you care more about the people around you, an event like the shooting really shows you how important it is, like the value of having good people around you and caring about those people every single day,” said senior Kevin Trejos.
Trejos was one of the school newspaper editors. He says from surviving the terror of February 14th, to sharing so much intense grief, to marching for change, it’s all created a tremendously strong bond and the graduation ceremony on Sunday will be the last time the seniors are all together.
“Those are the kinds of experiences that as friends we relive together, we try and make the best of it,” Trejos explained.
“No one else can identify with what you’ve had to go through,” added Suzanna.
We featured Suzanna in our SWAGon6 segment just a few days before calamity struck her school, when life was still utterly normal.
“Your whole perspective on life and the world kinda just changes after something so tragic happens, it’s hard to describe, you just know nothing’s the same,” Suzanna said.
“It’s changed our view of the world, like for example I know a lot of people who maybe wanted to go to smaller universities or somewhere where not many others would be going, are now choosing to go in-state so they have someone to talk to,” Kevin said. “Having classmates who went to Douglas, who had the same experience as you is really important for a lot of people, it helps you stay sane.”
Kevin and Suzanna are each going to the University of Florida, comforted by knowing that plenty of their friends from Stoneman Douglas will be there for support as well.
First, though, is the graduation ceremony, where everyone will be thinking of friends who aren’t there.
“It’s a new chapter but it’s also leaving so much behind and it’s not just a normal transition, there’s so much more to it,” Suzanna said. “It’s moving on from what happened without forgetting.”
Like so many Stoneman Douglas students, Suzanna and Kevin are hoping for a fresh start in college. There’s also a realization that the tragedy at their school will always be with them, shaping their lives and informing their perspectives.