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Moment of silence held for 17 killed in Florida a year ago | TribLIVE.com
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Moment of silence held for 17 killed in Florida a year ago

The Associated Press
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Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Sophia Rothenberg, from left to right, her mother Cheryl Rothenberg and sister, Emma Rothenberg, walk together after visiting a a memorial marking the one-year anniversary of a mass shooting at the school in Parkland, Fla., on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019. (Al Diaz/Miami Herald via AP)
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Students at Fort Lauderdale High School Fernando Davila, left, and Jake Lynch, both 17, participate in a moment of silence in their Court Proceedings class, during the one-year anniversary of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Some students around the country marked the anniversary of the school massacre in Parkland, Fla., with moments of silence Thursday or somber vigils. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
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Suzanne Devine Clark, an art teacher at Deerfield Beach Elementary School, places painted stones at a memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during the one-year anniversary of the school shooting, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019, in Parkland, Fla. A year ago on Thursday, 14 students and three staff members were killed when a gunman opened fire at the high school. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
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Students clap for first responders as they walk the hallway at Boardman High School after a lockdown drill, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019, in Boardman, Ohio. Some students around the country marked the anniversary of the school massacre in Parkland, Florida, with moments of silence Thursday or somber vigils while others sought to find threads of positivity in the fabric of tragedy. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
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Emma Rothenberg, left to right, with her mother Cheryl Rothenberg and sister, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Sophia Rothenberg embrace at a memorial marking the one-year anniversary of a mass shooting at the school in Parkland, Fla., on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019. (Al Diaz/Miami Herald via AP)
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Students at Seminole Middle School in Plantation, Fla., participate in a moment of silence Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019, for the 14 students and three staff members killed one year ago at nearby Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. They are sitting in front of a new mural depicting musicians from throughout the world that was dedicated to the shooting victims. (AP Photo/Terry Spencer)

PARKLAND, Fla. — Hundreds of thousands of students and adults across Florida and beyond bowed their heads in a moment of silence Thursday to mark the first anniversary of the shooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland that left 17 people dead.

“It’s a permanent sore spot,” said Fort Lauderdale High School junior Jake Lynch. “Forever, me going forward, I’ll feel this day, and this time and those names. It reminds me of where I want the world to be. … From suffering, better things come out.”

The massacre on Feb. 14, 2018, inflamed the national debate over guns, turned young people into political activists and gave rise to some of the biggest youth demonstrations since the Vietnam era.

The moment of silence at more than 1,000 Florida schools was held at 10:17 a.m., though the shooting actually began around 2:20 p.m. School officials picked a different time because Stoneman Douglas students were being dismissed early to avoid being on campus at the hour of the attack. The time 10:17 was selected to denote the 17 slain.

Many Stoneman Douglas students arrived wearing the burgundy #MSDStrong T-shirts that have become an emblem of the tragedy. Outside, clear plastic figurines of angels were erected for each of the 14 students and three staff members killed.

Reporters were not allowed inside the school, but students were working on service projects, and grief counselors and therapy dogs were made available. Students could also receive massages and pedicures. An interfaith service was scheduled for later in the day at a nearby park.

Freshmen Jayden Jaus and Matthew Sabia, both 14, helped mark the day by packing lunches for children in Haiti, putting rice, vitamins and soy into bags. Jaus said the moment of silence was “a bit emotional and a little intense” as the principal read the victims’ names over the public address system.

Still, many Stoneman Douglas students skipped school. For some it was too emotional; others did not want to be in the spotlight.

Sophomore Julia Brighton would not go inside, instead placing flowers at the outdoor memorial. She said she suffered with nightmares for months. Staying outside “felt like it would be a better experience for me instead of being at school and putting myself through that,” she said.

Alexis Grogan, a junior, said she was spending the day picking up beach trash, dedicating her work to those who died.

“I survived something, and I don’t want to waste what I call a second chance at life because those who have passed don’t get that,” she said. “We have to make a difference for them.”

Classes were almost over last Valentine’s Day when authorities say 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz stormed the place with an AR-15 assault rifle. Cruz, now 20, had a long history of emotional problems and threats. He is awaiting trial.

Victims’ families who have spoken publicly said they would spend the day quietly, visiting their loved ones’ graves or participating in low-key events like a community walk.

“We don’t need (the anniversary) to remind us what happened. We live with it every day,” said businessman Andrew Pollack, whose 18-year-old daughter Meadow died in the attack.

The massacre led some Stoneman Douglas students to form the group March for Our Lives, which holds rallies around the country for tougher gun regulations and registers young people to vote.

Weeks after the massacre, Florida’s Republican-controlled Legislature and GOP governor raised the age to buy a rifle from 18 to 21 and passed a so-called red-flag law allowing judges to take away the weapons of those who are considered a danger to themselves or others. Several other states have followed suit.

But other states moved in the opposite direction, making it easier to carry weapons in public and strengthening legal protections for people who claim they shot someone in self-defense.

In all, 40 states passed some kind of legislation related to guns in 2018, either imposing restrictions or expanding gun rights.

Schools elsewhere around the country and Florida took time to remember the victims.

At Ohio’s Boardman High, a chime rang 17 times. At Bethesda Chevy Chase High in Maryland, 671 white T-shirts were hung bearing the name of a teenager killed by gun violence last year. A Tampa high school honored the Parkland dead by releasing 17 white balloons.