Stoneman Douglas students, teachers speak out ahead of orientation

CORAL SPRINGS, FLA. (WSVN) - Students and faculty at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have shown their strength in the days since the Feb. 14 mass shooting, and as they prepare to return to class, some are expressing mixed emotions.

Mikayla Strabitz is among the many students who will soon return to the campus for the first time since the Valentine’s Day tragedy.

She works at Cecilie’s Gourmet Italian Ices in Coral Springs, where three different “Douglas Strong” decals are available for sale to support the family of one of the victims, assistant football coach Aaron Feis.

“We’re making a change. We’re going to stand strong no matter what, and we’re never going to forget this day,” said Strabitz.

After coming face to face with a tragic, life-changing event, Stoneman Douglas students are set to return to campus on Wednesday.

“I’m scared to go back, honestly,” said Strabitz. “I don’t know if I could feel safe again in a school like that, especially knowing there are so many entrances to that school and not knowing how Nikolas Cruz got in, that’s one scary thing.”

Before classes resume next week, the school is hosting a voluntary orientation on campus for the students, parents and staff members on Sunday, between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.

“I don’t think a lot of people will go back the first couple of days,” said Strabitz, “just because I know a lot of people were in the freshman building, so going back and not being able to go to those classes, seeing their classmates is going to hit them.”

Community support for Stoneman Douglas students and staff has been nothing short of extraordinary. Banners from nearby schools in support of those affected by the massacre hang on a fence on campus.

Photos of all the mail that the school has received since the tragedy happened have been posted on social media.

Stoneman Douglas teachers were allowed to return to the school on Friday. Therapy dogs and other counseling services were available to them.

Some teachers stated the need to return to school to continue with the healing process.

“I’m anxious to get back. I’m happy to get back,” said teacher Jim Gard. ” I think we need to be — it’d be nice for us all to be together.”

Still, some people acknowledged that coming back to the scene of tragedy won’t be easy.

“Would you go back? Would you be able to go back in there? Would you?” said parent Renata Monteiro as she held back tears.

The “Douglas Strong” decals at Cecilie’s Gourmet Italian Ices are $5 apiece. All proceeds go to the family of Aaron Feis.

School officials said they are planning to have students come back for three half days, from Wednesday to Friday, between 7:40 a.m. to 11:40 a.m.

Copyright 2020 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.