We Say #NeverAgain: Reporting by the Parkland Student Journalists

We Say #NeverAgain: Reporting by the Parkland Student Journalists

by Melissa Falkowski, Eric Garner

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A journalistic look at the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland and the fight for gun control--as told by the student reporters for the school's newspaper and TV station.

This timely and media-driven approach to the Parkland shooting, as reported by teens in the journalism and broadcasting programs and in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas newspaper, is an inside look at that tragic day and the events that followed that only they could tell.

It showcases how the teens have become media savvy and the skills they have learned and honed--harnessing social media, speaking to the press, and writing effective op-eds. Students will also share specific insight into what it has been like being approached by the press and how that has informed the way they interview their own subjects.

"One thing is clear: The Parkland students are smart, media savvy, and here to fight for common sense gun laws." --Hello Giggles

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781984849984
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 10/02/2018
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 477,634
File size: 144 MB
Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.
Age Range: 14 Years

About the Author

Melissa Falkowski is the journalism teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and Eric Garner is the broadcasting teacher. After the tragic February day in Parkland, they knew that the voices of their students needed to be heard. WE SAY #NEVER AGAIN is their story--written by the journalism students and creators of the school newspaper, The Eagle Eye and the staff at WMSD-TV.

Read an Excerpt

The Events of February 14

by Melissa Falkowski, MSD journalism teacher

February 14, 2018, started almost like any other normal Valentine’s Day.

In my first two periods, my creative writing students wrote love advice columns and turned famous love poems into “hate” poems—­an activity for the angsty anti–­Valentine’s Day students. The day was filled with candy, balloons, stuffed animals, flowers, and a general show of love for each other. In first period, Samantha Fuentes shared chocolate-­covered strawberries from Kilwin’s, where she had just started working. At the beginning of second period, we spent fifteen minutes outside for our monthly scheduled fire drill.

The rest of the day passed pretty uneventfully—­lunch, study hall, and finally newspaper class. I worked with staffers and editors on our upcoming third-­quarter issue of the newspaper and stories scheduled to post to our website. Class and the school day were almost over.

Then, at 2:21 p.m. the fire alarm sounds. The class stops what they’re doing and looks to me for directions. It’s not normal for the fire alarm to sound twice in one day, but not totally out of the question, especially if culinary is cooking.

“We gotta go, guys. Get your stuff,” I tell them.

Some of them grumble, and some of them roll their eyes. We are annoyed and inconvenienced. Haven’t we already done this today?

I grab my cell phone and my keys, grab my emergency folder, and stand at the door counting how many students leave the room—­twenty-­five total, the entire class listed on my fourth-­period roster. I want to make sure that I have them all when I get to my assigned evacuation zone. I close my already locked door and turn left, heading the fifteen feet to the double doors that will take me to the outside hallway.

The outside stairwell is crowded. I see one of our campus security monitors. I ask her what’s going on.

“Someone set off firecrackers in the 1200 building,” she tells me.

“Okay. Idiots,” I tell her as I roll my eyes.

I turn to two other teachers to tell them.

The campus monitor calls to me. “Go back. Code Red! Code Red!”

The other teachers and I call out to the students in the hallway and the stairwell to turn around and go back. I pivot and walk quickly back to my room. As I open my door, I hear an administrator’s voice come over the intercom. “Code Red,” he says.

I’m the first teacher back to my hallway. I’m holding the door open as students file in. I’m yelling to kids in the hallway, “Get inside! Right now! Go anywhere. It doesn’t matter where you are supposed to be.”

They look confused.

Colleagues are starting to return to their classrooms and open up. One of them calls down to me and asks what’s going on.

“It’s a Code Red!” I yell to her.

“Are you serious?” she asks.


Two out-­of-­breath students appear on my side of the hallway. I tell them to come inside. Students at the other end of the hallway are filing into classrooms. I decide to close my door. I already feel like I’ve held it open for too long.

When I turn and close the door behind me, I see all my students huddled into a corner of the room. They are in the exact place we discussed a month ago after staff training about active shooter situations. I returned from the training and mapped out an area of the room that I could make invisible from the door’s window by covering it halfway with paper.

I move into the corner, pull out the attendance roster from my emergency folder, and start calling names. In total I have nineteen students with me—­two who are not mine, and seventeen of my newspaper students. I’m missing eight students. As I get to the names of missing students on the roster, I tell the other students to text them and find out where they are.

They are located quickly; they’re in the classroom beneath us in a closet. All eight of them are together. When they reached the bottom of the stairwell, another teacher pulled them inside.

I write down the names of the two extra students with me. Their classroom is across campus. I find out later that as their class evacuated for the fire alarm, they were told to just run. Their building is directly across from the 1200 building. They heard shots, but they say nothing about it to me or my students at the time.

One of my students asks me, “Mrs. Falkowski, are you going to turn off the lights?”

I forgot to turn off the lights. “Of course,” I tell her.

I get up, turn off the lights in my room, and walk into my adjacent computer lab and turn those off, too. For the few seconds when I’m in the computer lab, I almost lose my composure. I’m shaking, and I can feel the tears coming. I take a deep breath and go back to the corner in the larger room.

It’s 2:28 p.m. One student is already in the closet. She went straight there when she arrived in the room. I text my husband.

“We are in a Code Red. I’m locked in my room. With kids. I’m okay and I love you.”

I text my husband again.

“I don’t know what’s happening. It could be the drill they said they were going to do this semester. But I don’t see why they would do it at 2:30.”

Now we can hear helicopters and sirens. I google Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The first link says, “Shots Fired.”

I make the decision to move everyone into the closet. I pull out a cart and some things that are taking up room. I call the students over a few at a time. I tell them just to bring themselves and their phones—­no backpacks. Just people, not things. I grab my phone charger from behind my desk, and we close up the closet.

The lights are off. It’s dark, hot, and crowded. We have to stand shoulder to shoulder for everyone to fit. A few students are crying in the back. I use my phone’s flashlight to illuminate the closet. I’m telling the kids over and over that everything is okay. We are together and everything is going to be okay.

Table of Contents


The Events of February 14 Melissa Falkowski 1

Getting to Work on the Newspaper Melissa Falkowski 10

Finding the Light Eric Garner 14

Part 1 Activism

Pushed into the Spotlight Delaney Tarr 21

Sweating Under the Spotlight: Recognition and Responsibility Nikhita Nookala 25

The Role of a Journalist: Exposing the Epidemic of Gun Violence Rebecca Schneid 30

Extraordinary Acts

Senior Brandon Huff Tries to Run into Freshman Building to Save His Girlfriend 34

Guide from a Journalist on the Other Side: The Dos and Don'ts for Journalists Covering Tragedies Carly Novell 37

An Outsider's Perspective Lewis Mizen 42

From Victims to Villains Rebecca Schneid 47

Extraordinary Acts

Freshman Chris McKenna Comes into Contact with Gunman Minutes Before Shooting 52

Managing Your Own Bias in Reporting Suzanna Barna 54

Speaking Out for Those Who Can't Delaney Tarr 58

Not Just a Walk to the Park: Covering Civil Disobedience Christy Ma 62

Extraordinary Acts

Senior Kelly Plaur Protects Her Teacher from Gunfire 66

Tweeting for Change: An Interview with Carlitos Rodriguez Daniela Infantino 69

Holding Politicians to Account Ryan Deitsch 75

Shining a Light on Gun Violence: Diverse Perspectives Richard Doan 80

Extraordinary Acts

Psychology Teacher Ronit Reoven Provides First Aid to Injured Students 89

Coping with Trauma While Keeping Emotions in Check Rebecca Schneid 92

From Parkland to Pennsylvania Avenue: Putting Together a National Movement Delaney Tarr 99

Extraordinary Acts

Junior Lorenzo Prado Is Falsely Identified as a Suspect in Shooting 104

Photographing Revolution: The Parkland March Josh Riemer 108

Team Reporting

The March For Our Lives, D.C.-Covering History in the Making 112

Extraordinary Acts

JROTC Students Help Shield Others Behind Kevlar Sheets Inside Classroom 128

Interviewing Bernie Sanders Dara Rosen 130

Part 2 MSD Strong

Trapped Augustus Griffith Jr. 137

A Nightmare Invades My Reality Andy Pedroza 144

Extraordinary Acts

Freshman Jason Snytte Saved His Classmates by Shutting His Class Door 151

Through New Eyes: From Student to Photojournalist Kevin Trejos 153

Eulogizing Friends and Covering Tragedy Nikhita Nookala 157

Balancing Guilt with Opportunities Carly Novell 161

Extraordinary Acts

Culinary Arts Teacher Ashley Kurth Pulls Students Fleeing Freshman Building into Safety 165

The Evolution of the Eagle Eye Website Christy Ma 168

The Parkland March For Our Lives: Two Perspectives Augustus Griffith Jr. Sam Grizelj 171

Extraordinary Acts

Ernie Rospierski, Social Studies Teacher, Shields Students from Shooter 176

Healing Through Journalism Suzanna Barna 179

What It's Like to Work with Mass Media Zakari Kostzer 183

Using Work on the Documentary as an Escape Chris Cahill 186

Part 3 What Comes Next

Starting a Grassroots Movement: A Quick Guide Delaney Tarr 195

Extraordinary Acts

Sgt. Jeff Heinrich, Off-Duty Officer, Saves Student and Secures Building 198

Becoming an Activist in Your School Suzanna Barna 201

A Guide to Reaching Out and Speaking to Politicians Lewis Mizen 205

Controlling the Interview: How to Avoid Saying Something You Don't Believe Nikhita Nookala 208

Leveraging Social Media David Hogg 212

Extraordinary Acts

Charlie Rothkopf and Victoria Proietto Save Fellow Student During Shooting 219

Speaking from the Heart Tyra Hemans 222

Self-Care: Managing Your Trauma Leni Steinhardt 230

Day to Day: What Will the Future Bring? Daniel Cuervo 234

The Road to Change David Hogg 237

Independent Student-Run Newsrooms: An Imperative for High Schools Nationwide Melissa Falkowski 243

Honoring Our Fallen Eagles 247

MSD Media Awards and Accolades 249

Meet the Contributors 253

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