3 Parkland Teens Remember Slain Classmates Via Music, Story, Poetry

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Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School senior Amanda Edwards, 17, lost her close friend and fellow musician, Carmen Schentrup, in the Parkland shooting. Amanda says she’s nervous to go outside and a little afraid to play since the incident. Photo courtesy of Eric Edwards.

MUSICAL TRIBUTE: When Words Fail, Music Speaks

Some survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are speaking at rallies. For 17-year-old Amanda Edwards, coping with her grief is taking a different form: playing piano. Youth Radio caught up with her at her home in Parkland, Florida.

I started playing [piano] when I was 3 years old. I didn’t play for fun at all after what happened. I got scared of a little bit of playing — I don’t know why. So this is the second time I’ve played since it happened.

After the massacre I’ve just been laying low I guess.  I’ve also been avoiding public places a lot too, because I’m nervous and I’m a little bit shy. And I’ve always had the school shooter thing in the back of my mind. Ever since I was young I’ve always just had it. Like what if this happens, what if that happens, and one of my what-ifs that I’ve always had my entire mind just happened. So I guess this just confirmed my suspicions in a way.

I went to the viewing for my friend, Carmen Schentrup — my close friend. I was not very good at making friends in the first place. And I first met her in freshman year when I was in orchestra. She sat in the back row, I just talked to her and she just talked to me. Junior year we had five classes together. So she was there for the majority of my day in school. She was probably one of my closest friends ever, I guess.

On Monday before the school shooting happened, I saw her. She kind of slowed down a little bit because she saw me, and she said, “Hi.” And I said, “Hi.”  I remember saying goodbye and it was the last time I saw her… at least alive. And that hurt a lot… after I found out and saw, you know, the body.

I think we had a good time though as friends.

— Amanda Edwards, 17, senior

Amanda Edwards (left) and Carmen Schentrup (right) after an orchestra concert in 2016. Carmen was one of the 17 victims of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.  Photo courtesy of Eric Edwards.

AUDIO DIARY: The First Day Back at School After the Shooting

7:18 a.m. 
My name is Ariana Ortega. I’m 17 years old. I am a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas. I’m currently just getting ready at home for our first day back at school. I’m a little nervous to see how it goes. Most of all nervous to see the empty seats in our classrooms. That will be the most impacting part throughout the day, I think for all of us.  But I am also very comforted by the fact that I’ll be back with my classmates who I haven’t seen for exactly two weeks now. I’m excited to see how everyone is. I am a little nervous, but I’m not scared. I’m not scared about security reasons because I know that will be very protected and that’s not something that’s lingering in my mind. Most of all it’s just the emotional stress that I’m scared about.
School starts officially at 7:40 so we’ll see how it goes. I will go meet up with old friends now.
9:46 a.m.
I’m here with my friend. We are on our way to our calculus class so we will see our teacher for the first time again. Since two Wednesdays ago. But yeah it’s been very impactful seeing the empty seats in our classes. We’ve had plenty of friends breaking down into tears because it feels real a little bit. So little surreal to me. I don’t believe it. But it’s happened. And over time I think we will all come to the realization, but we’ll also heal as a group, as classmates, and as a community.
11:46 a.m. 
So it is the end of the school day. The day I’d say was very healing overall. It was very nice to see our familiar faces once again. Teachers said very heartfelt words but we really, really appreciated it to know how much they really do care for us. As teachers, they’re almost another pair of parents for us. They’re always there watching us, being our guards and loving us and being there to support us not only through education but through life. And that was very evident today, so I’m very thankful for that. My classmates and friends, I gave them a lot of hugs today. They hugged me right back. It was a very comforting and very safe and healing process and I’m very happy to have been able to come back to our second home again.

POETRY: None Of This Is Normal

Jenna Harris is 15 years old and in 10th grade at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. 

Photo courtesy of Renée Harris

I haven’t written about it yet
Maybe because writing was one of the things that felt
normal to me
But nothing about this feels normal

Seeing my classmates on the news
Being asked for interviews
Having celebrities tweet my town’s name
None of it feels normal

While in the closet
My body shook uncontrollably
I held the hands of my friends
And tried to hold in my tears
Because I didn’t want to think about who wouldn’t see their
loved ones these following years

My heart is racing
My insides are aching
I’m angry
I’m sad
But I am grateful that I am alive
And hungry for change
And for my school, for my community I’m filled with so much

None of this feels normal
But with a broken heart, I know all of this is true
And for each angel that was brutally ripped from us
Everything from now on is for you

-Jenna Harris


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