STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

A solemn graduation for Marjory Stoneman Douglas seniors

Nearly four months after the Parkland, Florida, community was ...

Posted: Jun 4, 2018 11:12 AM
Updated: Jun 4, 2018 11:12 AM

Nearly four months after the Parkland, Florida, community was devastated by a deadly school shooting, seniors at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School gathered on Sunday to receive their diplomas.

The community anticipated a bittersweet occasion, as students -- dressed in maroon caps and gowns -- and teachers planned to honor the 17 students and faculty killed, including four seniors who would have graduated today.

On Sunday morning, Jeff Foster, the AP Government teacher and grand marshal of the graduation, took to Twitter to let his students know they had his support.

"Today is going to be emotional," he wrote. "Just know that I will always be there for you. I love you."

Ahead of the ceremony at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, MSD teacher Darren Levine told CNN the mood was somber.

"There's definitely a solemn feel mixed with joy, which is weird," Levine said.

During the ceremony, the names of each of the deceased seniors were called, and their family members and close friends came forward to accept their diplomas.

The family of Joaquin Oliver, one of the students killed when a gunman stormed the school on February 14, planned to attend the ceremony. Joaquin's parents received his diploma in his place.

It was an emotional scene, according to Levine. Joaquin's father, Manuel Oliver, ran up the aisle between the graduating students to loud cheers and applause as the crowd gave him a standing ovation. Meanwhile, his mother wore a yellow shirt that read, "This should be my son."

Hunter Pollack, brother of victim Meadow Pollack, received his sister's diploma in her stead.

Levine told CNN some attendees shed tears as students, holding hands, sang "Shine," a song written by MSD students in the aftermath of the shooting.

Another teacher told CNN the senior class president, Julia Cordover, gave an emotional speech encouraging classmates to use their votes to change the world.

The ceremony also honored the three faculty members killed in the shooting. Representatives for teacher Scott Beigel, Coach Aaron Feis and athletic director Chris Hixon each accepted a statue of an eagle in their honor.

A surprise guest

School faculty had teased the fact that a special guest would speak at the ceremony, and students and their families were eventually surprised by Jimmy Fallon, host of the "Tonight Show." Like the students, Fallon wore a sash that read, "MSD Strong."

"Today you're graduating from high school," he said, according to videos posted to social media and shared with CNN. "You should feel incredibly proud of yourselves. That doesn't mean you should rest on your laurels -- or your yannys."

Fallon also thanked the class for their "courage" and "bravery."

Some attendees called attention to gun violence

Some of the students decorated the slates of their caps with homages to their lost friends.

One of Meadow's best friends, Carley Ogozaly, decorated her cap with a picture of Meadow and the words, "We are still in this together."

Other students like David Hogg -- who has become a prominent voice in the shooting's aftermath -- used their caps to make a political statement.

He shared a photo of his cap, painted orange, with a price tag that read "$1.05" on Twitter.

"Thanks for the tassel @marcorubio," Hogg wrote.

Student activists wore similar price tags at the March for Our Lives rally in March as a dig at Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and the National Rifle Association. The figure is meant to represent how much each student in Florida is worth to Rubio, based on how much money he received from the NRA.

Students weren't the only ones making a statement. Some teachers used orange lipstick to draw strips beneath their eyes as part of a movement called the Lipstick Lobby. The shade of lipstick was meant to draw attention to the issue of gun violence.

The mother of Carmen Schentrup, another senior killed in the shooting, wore orange lipstick in the movement's advertising campaign.

Since the shooting, MSD students have led a national conversation about gun violence through various protests, like school walkouts and the March for Our Lives, which saw massive crowds turn out in Washington and around the country.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 20573

Reported Deaths: 878
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin6918534
Ramsey231697
Stearns192312
Nobles14572
Anoka116455
Dakota105935
Olmsted55110
Washington50626
Kandiyohi4541
Clay36623
Rice3652
Scott3462
Wright2401
Sherburne2081
Todd1970
Benton1662
Carver1612
Mower1501
Steele1400
Martin1245
Blue Earth1121
St. Louis11113
Pine850
Freeborn840
Winona7715
Carlton730
Nicollet683
Cottonwood620
Polk582
Otter Tail550
Itasca527
Goodhue522
Watonwan500
Chisago481
Dodge430
Meeker420
Crow Wing421
Le Sueur411
Chippewa400
Jackson390
Morrison380
Murray350
Becker320
Lyon310
Douglas290
McLeod260
Isanti250
Waseca240
Rock210
Unassigned199
Fillmore171
Mille Lacs161
Wabasha160
Swift150
Sibley120
Beltrami120
Wilkin113
Norman110
Kanabec111
Cass113
Faribault110
Brown112
Pipestone100
Marshall80
Pennington70
Pope70
Aitkin60
Wadena60
Yellow Medicine50
Koochiching50
Lincoln50
Mahnomen51
Renville50
Lac qui Parle30
Red Lake30
Big Stone30
Redwood30
Traverse30
Grant20
Houston20
Clearwater20
Hubbard10
Kittson10
Lake10
Roseau10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 17227

Reported Deaths: 456
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk3714108
Woodbury255524
Black Hawk167639
Linn92775
Marshall86611
Dallas84914
Johnson5987
Muscatine54339
Wapello5004
Crawford4772
Tama39023
Louisa3347
Scott3319
Dubuque31916
Jasper25616
Buena Vista2310
Pottawattamie2106
Sioux1990
Washington1798
Allamakee1184
Wright1170
Plymouth1080
Warren1060
Story941
Poweshiek888
Bremer676
Henry611
Clinton601
Boone540
Des Moines531
Mahaska526
Cedar451
Guthrie433
Taylor370
Benton371
Jones360
Monroe334
Iowa320
Clarke320
Osceola320
Shelby310
Buchanan310
Clayton303
Marion290
Webster271
Fayette260
Hamilton260
Madison241
Monona230
Cerro Gordo221
Lee220
Winneshiek210
Davis200
Lyon190
Grundy190
Harrison190
Floyd181
Jefferson150
Cherokee150
Butler150
Mills140
Delaware140
Humboldt130
Sac130
Greene130
Keokuk130
Hardin130
Howard120
Hancock120
Appanoose123
Audubon111
Jackson110
Cass110
Ida100
Page100
Clay100
Winnebago100
Carroll90
Van Buren80
Franklin80
Dickinson80
Adair80
Chickasaw80
Kossuth70
Emmet70
Lucas60
Montgomery60
Union60
Adams50
Ringgold40
Fremont40
Pocahontas40
Mitchell40
Palo Alto30
Worth30
Unassigned30
Calhoun20
Wayne10
Decatur00
Rochester
Scattered Clouds
76° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 76°
Mason City
Few Clouds
75° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 75°
Albert Lea
Scattered Clouds
75° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 75°
Austin
Scattered Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 81°
Charles City
Broken Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 81°
Storms a brewin'
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Memorial Day Dinner

Image

Salvation Army Dental Care Needs PPE

Image

Sara's Midday Forecast - Monday

Image

Ironwood Springs offering alternatives for camps

Image

Pregnancy support during the Pandemic

Image

Sara's Daybreak Forecast - Monday

${item.thumbnail.title}

StormTeam 3: Memorial Day's severe weather threat

Image

Deciding on the return of prep sports in Iowa

Image

Sean Weather 5/24

Image

Minnesota campgrounds missing out on Memorial Day Weekend

Community Events