Douglas students, Pulse survivors join forces, head to Tally

Feb 20, 2018
Melanie Bell/The Palm Beach Post
India Goodman, a Pulse Night Club survivor hugs and comforts students before the buses leave for Tallahassee. Goodman and other survivors will meet up with the students in Tallahassee. Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fl., board buses to travel to Tallahassee, February 20, 2018. (Melanie Bell / The Palm Beach Post)

A group of students boarded two buses in Parkland this afternoon and are headed for Tallahassee to try to get legislators to consider changes in Florida’s gun laws.

The roughly 100 students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, four survivors from the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, and members of news organizations left about 1:45 p.m. from a mall not far from the school, site of last Wednesday’s mass shooting that left 17 dead.

A third bus was also planned to head north for the trip.

West Boca joins in

A group of students from West Boca High School left classes early Tuesday and many made the 12-mile walk to support Douglas. 

Kendrick Hong, a 14-year-old freshman from West Boca, explained how the West Boca High kids decided to march. 

He said West Boca High was having a moment of silence for Douglas, which was to last 17 minutes, but kids just got frustrated and they said, “let’s go!” 

Kendrick Hong and Joey Courtney, both 14-year-old freshmen at West Boca High, joined other students at the school when they left school early and headed for Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. (John Pacenti / The Palm Beach Post)

He said school security tried to stop them but it “just turned into a spontaneous demonstration.” 

“It’s just amazing that all of us just did it.” 

“I just didn’t feel anyone was doing anything about guns,” said Hong, who walked about 4 ½ miles before getting a ride to Douglas. 

>>WEST BOCA: Students leave school early and march to Douglas

Hong believes about 90 percent of the school took part in the walk. 

“We are supporting a cause. That’s what so amazing,” said freshman Joey Courtney, 14. 

Courtney said some teachers are marching with the students “because they don’t feel safe either because of the lack of gun laws.” 

Tanzil Philip, a 10th grade student from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fl., on board buses to travel to Tallahassee, February 20, 2018 listens to words of comfort and encouragement from Pulse Night Club survivors before the buses leave. (Melanie Bell / The Palm Beach Post) Photo: Melanie Bell/The Palm Beach Post

“No one should be afraid to go to school,” Hong said. 

Rebeca Rojas, 14, a freshman at West Boca, said: “We have a right to protest. President Trump needs to know that he needs to make a law so that someone can’t get guns so easily.”

West Boca High Principal Craig Sommer walked with the kids.

“Focusing on the positive, I’m really proud of the students that walked more than 10 miles to stand up for what they believe in,” he said.

“The kids exercised their democratic right and they really don’t tolerate a lack of safety and we’re going to do our best to provide that for them.

“And another positive is the Douglas family expressed how much better this makes them feel.”

(John Pacenti / The Palm Beach Post)
Students talk to the media Tuesday as buses are ready to take students to Tallahassee. (John Pacenti / The Palm Beach Post)