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2 Weeks After Shooting, Students Return To Stoneman Douglas


The students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are back in class today for the first time since a mass shooting two weeks ago killed 17 people at their school.

LUCIA SALMAN: The friends that we lost in the classes - I have, like, two of them in my classes, and it's going to be very off seeing the teachers in there and the students sitting in there and not them. So it's going to be very difficult for that moment, and I don't know how I'm going to deal with it.

GREENE: That is Stoneman Douglas High School student Lucia Salman (ph) on her way into school this morning. NPR's Greg Allen has been outside the school all morning in Parkland, Fla., and joins me now.

Hi, Greg.


GREENE: Just listening to that voice there - I mean, this is not about going and picking up, like, where you left off in class work. This is just adjusting to a new reality for a lot of the people in the school community.

ALLEN: No, it - exactly, right. And, you know, it's interesting, though. I think the first class they were all going to was the fourth-period class, the class that they had - that had been disrupted, as I understand it. So, you know, you're going back in where you left off that day - you know, February 14. So just the stepping into that classroom will be difficult for many students, I'm sure.

GREENE: And we should say that the actual building where the shooting happened - that building is not open. I mean, these are other parts of the school that they've reopened for classes.

ALLEN: Right. That will be torn down. They're working now to come up with money to build a new building there. And the - one of the first things will be to find out where your class'll be that were in that building. I was talking to people who were - had classes there - seniors - who now don't know where that class will be. But that's part of what this week will be - coming up with a new schedule, getting together, reconnecting with your friends, with your teachers. It really won't be about learning. It'll just be about kind of getting the school routine going again. And a lot of the students told me that the routine will be important to help them get through this.

GREENE: What is what is their mood, I mean, these students as they're arriving this morning?

ALLEN: Well, the students I talked to - you know, every single one said they were ready to come back, although I did talk to some who told me they knew a lot of people who weren't coming back because they weren't ready. But that said, you know, the people who came back - this is a - you know, the school district is very solicitous, doing everything it can to help these students. There's grievance counselors there. There's therapy dogs around today. And I think they want the students to be able to take it at their own pace. But the folks I talked to - the students - the sophomores, freshmen, you know, juniors and seniors - they were saying, let's get back to routine. You know, the juniors have SATs coming up soon, AP exams, the kind of stuff that you do in high school, typically.

GREENE: Greg, a lot of these students became advocates in the wake of this tragedy, very outspoken about gun control. And we have this big news this morning that a big national retailer, Dick's Sporting Goods, is going to halt the sale of assault-style rifles. They're going to raise the minimum wage for all gun sales to 21. I mean, is that conversation coming up? Do some of these kids feel like their sort of advocacy is bringing about change?

ALLEN: Well, that certainly will be a victory for the students. You know, as you know, they've been calling for a boycott of companies that won't sever their ties to the NRA. And what the - what Dick's has done today is taking that a step maybe even further, saying, we're not - it's not about the NRA; it's about these kind of guns, these high-powered semi-automatic weapons, not selling those - the high-capacity clips. The students had all gone in by the time I'd gotten that news, so I didn't talk to students.

I talked to a couple parents who are activists on this - Andy Pollack and Ryan Petty, who had become very outspoken activists on school safety. They both told me that they're - they don't want to comment yet on it since it just came out. They want to look at it. But neither one of them said that they think guns are - they want to focus on guns. They want to focus on making schools safe, and they worry that when you go to the gun debate, that it makes things very difficult and things bogged down. So they think there's a way to get around this, is what they're saying.

GREENE: Sounds like a bell ringing. I mean, it actually sounds like some of those sounds of school that we actually know so well. It's nice to hear that.

ALLEN: Classes are changing, I think, inside, you know?

GREENE: All right, NPR's Greg Allen outside Stoneman Douglas High School as the school is reopening, and students are returning to class and trying to get back to a routine as best they can. Greg, thanks. We really appreciate it.

ALLEN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

As NPR's Miami correspondent, Greg Allen reports on the diverse issues and developments tied to the Southeast. He covers everything from breaking news to economic and political stories to arts and environmental stories. He moved into this role in 2006, after four years as NPR's Midwest correspondent.