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Day of love and service to mark six years since Parkland mass shooting

Day of love and service at Broward schools to mark six years since Parkland school shooting
Day of love and service at Broward schools to mark six years since Parkland school shooting 03:49
Moment of reflection to honor those who died in the Parkland massacre six years ago 04:09

FORT LAUDERDALE - Tuesday marks six years since the Parkland massacre.

Across Broward County schools, it is a day of service and remembrance for the 14 students and three staff members who were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018.

At 10:17 a.m., the entire district observed a moment of reflection to honor and remember those lives.

"We still struggle every day to figure out how we're moving forward with our life, but we do it every day, we wake up and we say we will do our best today but it's still hard," said Debbie Hixon.

Her husband Chris, the school's athletic director and wrestling coach, was fatally shot when ran toward the sound of gunshots unarmed to save students' lives.

There are a number of events happening today as Broward County Public Schools observes a day of service and love in commemoration of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School tragedy.

Around 8 a.m., students at Eagle Ridge Elementary formed a large human heart on the physical education field. It's become a tradition since the tragedy took place, with different schools chosen to do it each year.

Day of remembrance to mark six years since Parkland school massacre 02:47

Among those who took part was Morgan Stott who goes to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. She was at Eagle Ridge in 2018.

"I'm here today just to kind of like grieve and kind of help myself heal from what happened. I was at this school when it happened which is its sister school. So I'm just kind of like healing through it," she said.

"I think it's important for them to come together to do something powerful. Something that shows that we care, and also to give back. Today is about love, kindness, and compassion," said Eagle Ridge Principal Lindsey Sierra. 

She said teaching about love and hope can go a long way.

"I think that as educators, we need to guide students to focus on positive things, but also remember those that have fallen on that day. So you know, we try to support students emotionally, as well as, you know, taking time out to acknowledge their feelings, and then also just keeping it focused on the positives," said Sierra.

Parkland: Six years later 02:45

Fifth-grade students at Pembroke Lakes Elementary School will be taking part in Food for Thought for needy families. They'll be packing up food with positive messages. There will also be a moment of reflection.

At Fort Lauderdale High School, painters from Wynwood will create murals around campus as part of a meaningful beautification project. The students will help.

At Piper High School, messages of peace, love and non-violence will be created through chalk art, and students will create a banner promoting the school as a safe space for all students. 

Apollo Middle School in Hollywood, students will create peace and love posters throughout the day and then carry their designs as they participate in a Peace Walk at the school. 

Superintendent Dr. Peter Licata will visit Coral Springs Middle School and joined students as they created beaded bracelets, painted rocks, and drew chalk art with messages of kindness and love. "We're just writing peaceful messages and messages we want to show the world what we want," said 8th Grader Leia Naar.

Parkland community holds remembrance event for lives lost 6 years ago 02:41

Superintendent Licata said their message have meaning. "They're words we just sometimes glossed over, like be calm, smile, be nice, be who you are and we forget those things," he said. 

Weeks after the Parkland mass shooting, families got to work to make schools safer to prevent another tragedy from happening.

The minimum age to purchase a gun was raised from 18 to 21, a red flag law was passed, and schools across the state moved to have a single entry, making it harder for outsiders to go into a building.

Tony Montalto, whose daughter Gina died in the shooting, noted another big change.

"One of the biggest contributors has been having the threat reporting apps. In Broward County, they use a Safer Watch. Statewide, we have Fortify Florida. These reporting apps allow our students who see concerning behaviors, to report it to law enforcement and school officials simultaneously so that they can work together to investigate any concerns that are brought to them by the students," he said.

Many Parkland families are still working to do more.

Montalto would like to have classroom doors that lock from the inside instead of the outside and wants better-reinforced doors overall.

They will continue to fight for what they say is needed to prevent another tragedy.

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