Friday marks the second anniversary of one of the most traumatic moments in South Florida, when 17 students and staff members lost their lives in the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
Schools in Broward were released early Friday to allow students, teachers and staffs to be with their families and friends to remember those lives lost on February 14, 2018.
After a first responders breakfast at the Parkland school Friday morning, Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie spoke about the different safety enhancements that have been implemented since the tragedy.
"The investments that we've made, the changes that we've done in this district, the policies, the protocols, they've been significant," Runcie said. "This district looks absolutely different than it did a couple years ago in terms of safety and security, mental health and wellness, that's just a fabric of everything that we do, every board meeting, every workshop that we have, every conversation we have."
Runcie said the district has spent about $100 million on safety enhancements in the past two years.
Before the early release, schools across the county - including both Miramar and Cypress Bay High Schools - held community service events for students to give back and honor the MSD victims.
The cities of Parkland and Coral Springs were holding events during the day to remember those killed in the mass shooting, including a moment of silence observed at 2:21 p.m., the moment when the shooting began at the school.
Mourners also gathered at Pine Trails Park in Parkland starting at 1 p.m. to hold a community commemoration event. Several events scheduled for the day included a food packing project for the poor as well as therapists and support groups to help those still reeling from the tragedy.
In Coral Springs, the Eagles’ Haven community wellness center had a full day of programming scheduled while the city’s Museum of Art was bringing in monks from the Drepung Gomang monastery in India to share teaching and beliefs on global peace and non-violent conflict resolution.
Meanwhile, a billboard measuring 130 feet in length in 30 feet in height was being installed near the intersection of Sample Road and Sportsplex Drive in the city in an effort to serve as a beacon of compassion and care through May.
The Mary Help of Christmas Catholic Church also held a service of peace at 12 p.m. at the church, located at 5980 North University Drive in Parkland.