Maddie Conley
Online Editor

Maybe you’ve heard the name of small-town Parkland, Florida in the news lately, or maybe you haven’t, and you just know that there was another tragedy in what seems to be a flood of them. To First-Year student Will Young, Parkland means more than a word in a headline, it means home.

Young (second from right) and Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS basketball team. PC: Will Young

Headed to the locker room after basketball practice, Young scrolled through a string of text messages between friends from his high school basketball team. Unlike the usual conversation and banter, something was off.

“One of the guys texted ‘Is everyone okay?’ and I was thinking, what are they talking about?” Young said.

Before the news started spreading, Young searched for answers on the internet and saw the word shooting attached to a shockingly familiar school name — Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, his alma mater.

Young couldn’t believe it was actually his school. Shortly after, his mom called to confirm the news that he, unfortunately, was already internalizing. “Parkland is so small, we don’t even have our own sheriff,” Young said. “Nothing ever happens there.”

Certainly much is happening there now. There are many protests and marches that are being held in response to the shooting. “At first everyone was in shock and taking it super hard,” Young said. “Now they are getting out of grieving mode and taking action. It’s crazy how the community is coming together after this.”

Throughout Young’s processing of the tragedy that struck so close to home, he came to realize the importance of friendship.

Young on signing day with Athletic Director Chis Hixon (far left) who was killed. PC: Will Young

“Some of the people that died were in my classes and I think like, I could’ve said ‘what’s up’ to them or got to know them or something,” Young said. “Be friendly to everyone.”

Young offered an interesting perspective related to the shooter as well. “People always said he was a weird kid and stuff like that,” Young said. “I’m not saying that he wouldn’t have had the same mindset, but I’m saying that maybe if people hadn’t labeled him as weird or if they had befriended him more then he might’ve had the mindset to not kill people.”

It’s hard for Young to process that a tragedy of this magnitude could be a reality. “Somedays I wake up and forget about it and then I go on Twitter and see the grief and the protests and it reminds me how these people are affected,” Young said. “The parents, the friends, they didn’t just lose their kids and friends for like a week, they have to deal with this for the rest of their lives.”

Check out an exclusive interview with Young on MC77.