Parkland Students Struggle With Yearbook After Shooting

NYT followed editors, designers, writers & photographers as they toiled in aftermath of tragedy.

school shootings
Candles glow at a memorial site to honor 17 people who were killed in the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, on February 17, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
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After 17 people were killed on Valentine’s Day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the Aerie yearbook staff realized they would somehow have to memorialize the tragedy in the pages.

At first, some students found the responsibility overwhelming, a dilemma that few other students who have survived mass school shootings have faced. The children at Sandy Hook, for example, were too young, while those at Columbine High School were too far into their school year.

At Stoneman Douglas High School, editors decided the shooting would not be the main focus of the book. Instead, the Aerie would preserve the days that came before the horrific rampage, while devoting some pages tothe story of that terrible day, and the lives that were lost. The staff allowed The New York Times to follow the group of 37 editors, designers, writers, and photographers as they pulled together the yearbook. The publisher of the book waived the March 9 deadline and a yearbook adviser in Texas created a GoFundMe that raised more than $47,000 for the Aerie and The Eagle Eye, the student newspaper.

The staff put together a page for Valentine’s Day, showing the school’s last moments of normalcy before the shooting. They organized the book in chronological order. After Valentine’s Day, there are seven new spreads, including one page for each of the dead. They also included a page that showed student tattoos commemorating the dead.

“It has to be perfect,”Aly Sheehy, an 18-year-old senior and captions editor, said about the book.

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