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‘A constant reminder’: MSD graduates from FAU frustrated with timing of building demolition

Editors Note: This story was updated on June 20 to add a statement from a Broward County Public Schools official on their plan to replace the building. On June 15, crowds of people gathered behind the campus fence of Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) High School to watch the demolition of the 1200 Building, the site...

Editors Note: This story was updated on June 20 to add a statement from a Broward County Public Schools official on their plan to replace the building.

On June 15, crowds of people gathered behind the campus fence of Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) High School to watch the demolition of the 1200 Building, the site where a mass shooting occurred that took the lives of 17 individuals on Valentine’s Day in 2018.

Reagan Licata, a 2022 MSD graduate and junior at Florida Atlantic University (FAU), attended the demolition to mourn a friend who was one of the 17 victims of the shooting. Licata, among other FAU students, reflected on the six-year wait to tear down the building as it presented a constant reminder of the shooting. The delay was caused by jurors needing to examine the crime scene for the shooter’s 2022 penalty trial, as reported by the Associated Press.

“I understand why they had to keep the building for evidence and so on, but I feel as though everyone spent way too long having to drive or walk past it and be reminded of that day,” Licata said. “I feel like the idea of demolishing it was talked about for too long before anything happened. It was such a big part of the healing process for most people.”

Aidan LaPaglia, a 2024 MSD graduate and an incoming freshman at FAU, feels that the building’s presence negatively impacted his campus experience, and the demolition process took an unnecessarily long time to implement.

“The six-year timeframe is absolutely absurd; in a case where all the facts are present with families and a community suffering, it should have been demolished much earlier,” LaPaglia said. “When I was a student at MSD, I felt that the presence of the building had an overwhelming impact on the campus. Sort of a constant reminder and looming thing we were just expected to walk past and ‘ignore’ daily.”

Miguel Garcia, a 2023 MSD graduate and sophomore at FAU, agreed with LaPaglia that the demolition timeline was long overdue, especially for the distress it could cause victims and grieving families.

“I believe it’s for the best that the building will be demolished; it has been vacant [and fenced off from public access] ever since that day, and it only reminds the community of such a traumatic event,” Garcia said. 

LaPaglia concurred that the shooting had created a school environment filled with fear among students. Despite the presence of two other memorials on campus, he felt strongly that the most fitting response would be to construct a monument at the demolition site dedicated to the 17 lives. 

Keyla Concepción, the director of mass media & community relations at Broward County Public Schools, clarified the district’s plan to replace the building after its demolition.

“Once the demolition of the building is completed and debris is removed, the site will be leveled and covered with sod,” Concepción said. “The District is continuing to work with victim’s families and school staff on determining the future use of the site.”

Michael Cook is the News Editor for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email michael17cook@gmail.com.   

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