Special Issue • Volume 3, Number 3 • April 2018
Front cover photo by Kevin Trejos
The Eagle Eye
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School 5901 Pine Island Road Parkland, FL 33076
Special Issue • Volume 3, Number 3 • April 2018
Editorial Board Emma Dowd Lauren Newman Rebecca Schneid Editors-in-Chief
Christy Ma Taylor morrison NIKHITA NOOKALA Carly novell Copy Editors
Hannah Kapoor Social Media Editor
Jacob Brown Design Editor
02 Special Issue • In Memoriam
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Staff Writers Tyler Avron Suzanna Barna Nyan Clarke Einav Cohen Ryan Deitsch Anna Dittman Richard Doan Abby Dowd Brianna Fisher Tara Gaines Samantha Getz
Samantha Goldblum Zoe Gordon Caeden Greenwood Nezam Hamada Alex Han Joyce Han Jordyn Laudanno Ryan LoFurno Lewis Mizen Mallory Muller Julia Noye
Daniel Pirtle Mackenzie Quinn Dara Rosen Leni Steinhardt Delaney Tarr Fallon Trachtman Kevin Trejos Daniel Williams Taylor Yon
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Photo by Rain Valladares
Table of Contents 04 Alyssa Alhadeff 06 Martin Duque Anguiano 08 Nicholas Dworet 10 Jaime Guttenberg 12 Luke Hoyer 14 Cara Loughran
16 Gina Montalto 18 Joaquin Oliver 20 Alaina Petty 22 Meadow Pollack 24 Helena Ramsay 26 Alex Schachter
28 Carmen Schentrup 30 Peter Wang 32 Scott Beigel 34 Aaron Feis 36 Chris Hixon 38 Poetry Special Issue â&#x20AC;˘ In Memoriam 03
Design by Leni Steinhardt
lyssa Mirriam Alhadeff was a beautiful all-American teenage girl. She loved going to the mall with friends, playing soccer and obsessing over boys. With such a huge heart, she could make anyone feel welcomed and loved no matter who they were or where they came from. Traits like these contributed to her affectionate personality and her overall friendliness. “Alyssa was obsessed with her friends and really liked boys. She also loved going on her cellphone. She wanted the American dream as far as striving to be the best. She took such high level classes in school, but at the same time had such a strong, active social life. She had that good balance,” Alyssa’s mother, Lori Alhadeff, said. Alyssa was born on May 1, 2003 in Queens, New York to Lori and Ilan Alhadeff. She grew up in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey and moved to Parkland in 2014 with her two younger brothers. From a young age, Alyssa was always full of energy and determination. Whether she was arguing for her right to go see a movie with friends or debating her piece in a speech and debate competition, she knew how to get her way. “Alyssa was such a fighter. She was spunky and an incredible debater. She just always got her way and never gave up. If she wanted to go to the mall with friends, she would just say ‘Mommy, why can’t I go to the mall,’ and would give 10 reasons as to why she should be there,” Lori Alhadeff said. Alyssa’s favorite sport was soccer, which she started playing at 3 years old. When she moved to Parkland, she joined the South Florida United Youth Soccer Association. “I first met Alyssa at tryouts. From that day, Alyssa completely stood out to us,” coach Caterina Yibirin said. “The coaches and I were so impressed, and we knew we had to keep an eye on her.” Alyssa played for the Parkland Soccer Club as well as for the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School women’s varsity team. Due to her athletic abilities and soccer training as an attacking midfielder, Alyssa was promoted to the varsity team near the end of the season. The U.S. women’s national soccer team honored Alyssa during the SheBelieves Cup at the Orlando City Stadium on March 7, after junior Jamie Morris, who played alongside Alyssa on the soccer team, reached out to them, stating how devoted
to stay in state for college and wanted to go up north instead. “Alyssa was a student that worked hard to earn an ‘A’ for every marking period in Algebra II Honors. She was usually quiet in class and seldom asked for help with her classwork,” Algebra II teacher Jeffrey Taylor said. “She enjoyed the challenge of doing math and was on track to complete AP Calculus AB and AP Calculus BC before graduating from MSD.” After high school, Alyssa was planning on becoming a therapist for teenagers. Since she had a talent for connecting with the people around her, she wanted to channel that into a career. Alyssa was also a very avid writer, who enjoyed creative writing. She had an incredible way of weaving words together to create beautiful stories. “She was always super intelligent and was an incredible creative writer. I actually have every single piece of her writings since she started to write,” Lori Alhadeff said. “She just has this incredible way of thinking in her writing. The way she would connect with her words is beyond basic and such a high level of thinking.” During the summer, Alyssa attended a Jewish sleepaway camp at Camp Coleman in Cleveland, Georgia. “She was known for her smile. Every radius,” freshman Emily Burke said. “She high school. She competed in “duo camper talked about her amazing smile. interpretation” with her partner and made me laugh even when I am at my friend, freshman Abigail Price, and often It’s not typical to start camp at ninth worst.” grade, but she did that at ease. She came would attend different competitions Alyssa loved spending time with her in and made friends very quickly,” Camp across South Florida. She was recently friends and listening to their stories or invited to compete at FFL State Qualifiers. Coleman director Bobby Harris said. sharing her own. She only ever saw the Alyssa was both quirky and sometimes “I would like people to know how best in people and made sure her friends kind, considerate and hardworking Alyssa clumsy. Many of her fellow teammates knew she had their back. “She was a rare friend that always had was. She was a determined optimist with remember her tripping at soccer practices and constantly laughing. an infectious nervous laugh. Alyssa was your back and always protected you no “My best memory with Alyssa was excited to take debate next year and matter what. She hated drama and tried play a more active role as a team leader,” when we were in Target goofing around. avoiding any conflicts,” Burke said. She accidentally knocked down a whole Alyssa’s dream vacation was anywhere debate teacher Jesus Caro said. rack of clothes and just ran away,” Price Alyssa was also in the process of that had a beach. Her absolute favorite said. “We would always [be] constantly beach spot was Long Branch, New Jersey. creating a dramatic piece. The speech highlighted two young girls who were in laughing. She would just have to give me a “Alyssa was obsessed with the beach. a mental health facility. The story focuses look, and I would start laughing.” She was especially obsessed with Long Alyssa made a lasting impact on the Branch, New Jersey. Any chance she got to on how they find themselves with an go on the waves, she was in the ocean and unexpected bond, as they confess to each world with her kindness and warmth. She was a friend that anyone would always other how their family abandoned them would just hang out on the beach,” Lori be able to count on, a loving daughter, in the facility. Alhadeff said. “Alyssa had a unique ability to convey a caring sister, a determined student If you were to see Alyssa’s playlist, she and a committed soccer player. Most powerful messages to the world,” Caro would be listening to her favorite song: importantly, Alyssa was able to brighten “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus. With friends, said. Alyssa also took many rigorous courses anyone’s day and instantly make anything she would be caught watching one of her better through her bright smile and throughout high school, such as Algebra favorites movies “47 Meters Down.” contagious laugh, which her friends and II Honors as a freshman. Although she Alyssa was known to be kind to did not know what college she wanted to family will cherish forever. Story by Leni everyone and only ever saw the best in Steinhardt; photos courtesy of Emily Burke people. Alyssa would frequently volunteer attend yet, she had made it clear to both and Molly and Rebecca Marks friends and family that she did not want at homeless shelters for children, where of a soccer player Alyssa was. “Everyone was working on how to move forward, and my team felt like we needed to talk more about the victims and honor our friends. So, I sent out a tweet, and I asked Emma Gonzalez and Cameron Kasky, who are part of the Never Again movement, to retweet it. That got the ball rolling. Our whole team took a bus to Orlando to watch the team play and honor our friend,” Morris said. To honor Alyssa as well as the 17 other victims, the women’s soccer team displayed Alyssa’s jersey near their home field and made posters along with shirts. On and off the field, Alyssa was said to have the most contagious laugh and smile. Whether she was goofing around on the field or trying to make a friend’s day brighter, she always did it with a smile. “She was always the life of the party, and she never met a person she couldn’t make laugh. Her laugh was contagious to everyone that heard her within a mile
she would care for them and make sure to connect with each and every child. Whether she was baking special treats, such as cookies, with them or just talking to them, she made sure that she became friends with every individual, no matter their background or situation. “She was so kind-hearted. She would reach out to these kids that were homeless. At one shelter, she would just pick them up and put them on her hip. She would bring them and engage them and would bake cookies with them with icings and sprinkles. She didn’t care about race or anything like that; she just took what they were as a person,” Lori Alhadeff said. “I believe that that is such an amazing quality — to not care about economic status or ethnicity. She just accepted people for the way they were and who they were.” In school, Alyssa was an involved member of Debate Club, which she planned on taking for the rest of
She never met a person she couldn’t make laugh. Her laugh was contagious to everyone that heard her within a mile radius.
In Memoriam • Alyssa Alhadeff 05
Design by Dara Rosen
Martin Duque Anguiano
artin Duque-Anguiano Jr. was raised in a close-knit, affectionate family which fostered his considerate and thoughtful personality. His friends knew him as a humorous and loyal individual. Martin was born to Daisy Duque and Martin Anguiano Sr. on Sep. 4, 2003. He is survived by his parents along with his older brothers Miguel and Alex, as well as his younger brothers Andres and Santiago. “He looked up to all of us, his older brothers and our dad,” older brother and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School alumnus Miguel Duque said. In the future, Martin aimed to be economically self-sufficient in order to provide his parents with a less troublesome life and to give them a better home. Martin’s only wish was to provide his family with a stable, supportive and loving environment, like they did for him. “He always told me that he wanted to start working as soon as he turned 16 because he saw me helping the family financially with whatever they needed,” Miguel Duque said. Miguel Duque was an inspiration for Martin in every aspect. He played for the varsity soccer team for MSD until he graduated last year, and Alex is currently on the MSD varsity soccer team. Martin never joined a formal team, but he enjoyed playing with his very own team: his brothers. “He liked soccer, but he never really got a chance to get into it at a high level like Alex and I did. He was my number one fan, always at my soccer games,” Miguel Duque said. Martin found happiness in many small things. He spiritedly enjoyed watching national soccer games and supported the FC Barcelona team like his older brother Miguel — a true testament to the unbreakable bond that brothers share. In addition to his love of soccer, Martin also enjoyed playing a variety of video games, but his true passion was the “Star Wars” anthology. “He really loved ‘Star Wars.’ Everything for him was ‘Star Wars.’ He was just the biggest fan,” sophomore Juliette Hoffiz said. Martin’s love of “Star Wars” was even exhibited in his school supplies. His backpack was filled with themed pencils and folders. His love for “Star Wars” was always displayed in something he valued
clever with his humor. There were times he would say some pretty childish things, but it was always with good intentions,” Bonczek said. Martin’s values inspired his kind and genuine personality. He always put others’ happiness before his own, and he always made an attempt to brighten everyone’s mood. “Whenever I was off, he could tell, and he would always try to come up to me and crack jokes, and I really appreciated that. I wish I had been more appreciative of it,” Bonczek said. As much as he enjoyed making people laugh, he took certain things in life seriously. According to Miguel, Martin always dreamed of joining the Navy and becoming a Navy SEAL. To ready himself for the challenges of serving his country, he joined JROTC while at MSD. Martin was an admired cadet corporal, and he received several awards while participating in the JROTC program, such as the Leadership Development ribbon, Perfect Attendance ribbon, Parade ribbon, JROTC Athletic ribbon, Good Conduct ribbon and Personal Appearance ribbon. “He was quiet, attentive and always smiling. There was a sense of duty, selflessness, respect, and he treated studying. He wouldn’t be trying to go out around happy and positive person. people well… I could see that in his “[In elementary school] me and our with his friends, he would just be studying behavior,” Sgt. John Navarra said. other friend, we were like the three and getting good grades,” Miguel Duque The U.S. Army awarded the Medal of musketeers, we would play with each said. Martin was taking honors classes and other at recess. We were never social with Heroism posthumously to Martin along was looking forward to AP courses, as well other people, it would just be the three of with fellow cadets, Alaina Petty and Peter Wang. This medal is given to those who us,” freshman Rousseau Geffrard said. as dual enrollment next school year. His On Martin’s Go Fund Me page, Miguel perform courageous or selfless acts and intense course load exemplified his drive Duque described him as “a very funny kid, is the highest award a JROTC cadet can and ambition to achieve great things in obtain. outgoing but sometimes really quiet. He his lifetime. “Our class is very much like a family, “He was a smart boy, the smartest one was really sweet and caring and loved by all his family. Most of all, he was my baby and he would do this thing if you were in the family. He was pretty impressive. upset; he would put his hand on your brother.” Eventually, he wanted to go to FAU high When there was a break from his fierce shoulder and say ‘you are better than school,” Miguel Duque said. any problem,’” junior and First Sergeant study sessions, he was always a jokester, As committed as he was to school, he Victoria Olvera said. and he liked to make people happy with was equally as invested in his faith. He His smile would light up any room was a devoted church-goer and had strong his humor. He loved to put smiles on the he entered, and his happiness was faces of others. personal beliefs in his doctrine. contagious. He had an uplifting attitude “Martin was honestly one of the “He was a very religious kid; he would that made him unique, and he was always funniest freshman that I knew; you pray every day, and he was just one of laughing and joking around. those people who would be a shine of light wouldn’t expect the kind of humor he His kindness and compassion will live had from someone his age,” senior Robert in the world,” Hoffiz said. on in every life that he touched, and his Prayer was an integral part of his daily Bonczek said. positive outlook and enthusiasm are an Although determined when it came life, and he encouraged others to take part inspiration for all who knew him. Martin’s to academics, Martin was known for his in it. He was generous in his prayers and always included family and friends in his sense of humor which, like most teenage uplifting and bright personality will be a shining light as we try to live like he did. boys, was often inappropriate. invocations. “He would always come up with ways Story by Dara Rosen; photos courtesy of Miguel “He always prayed for us, for everyone Duque to make people laugh. He was pretty in the family,” Miguel Duque said. “He deeply and took seriously: his studies. All of his life, Martin loved school. Starting at Park Trails Elementary and then Westglades Middle School, he excelled in academics. Most teachers who had him as a student felt fortunate to witness his love of learning and dedication to his studies. “He was almost always [at school], always had a smile on his face. He was extremely well-liked, and it was clear that he really wanted to do well in school,” English teacher Debra Jacobson said. “Schooling and education were really important to him.” Martin’s academic career was always his first priority. He viewed his studies as more important than his social life. “I would come home from work or practice, and he would always be
knew there was a god, and I was proud... Most kids our age are partying, and they don’t realize what life is about, but he did, and I am a proud brother.” Martin mirrored his loyalty to God in his friendships. He displayed unwavering compassion and an abundance of kindness and generosity to friends and strangers alike. “He was very helpful [and] very happy. Whenever a situation was really sad, he would try to make it positive and happy. He would also always be there for you,” freshman Jose Hoyos said. “I came here in seventh grade, and I had nobody to teach me English or to guide me around the school, and I met him, and he showed me around, and he taught me a little bit.” Martin has been described as fun, loving and extroverted. He was an all
He was very helpful [and] very happy. Whenever a situation was really sad, he would try to make it positive and happy. He would also always be there for you.
06 In Memoriam • Martin Duque Anguiano
Nicholas Dworet N icholas Paul Dworet was many things: a senior committed to the University of Indianapolis, the university of his dreams; the swim team captain of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School; a loving boyfriend, a compassionate friend and a cherished son. However, one prominent title remains, and it is that Nick was a member of the Eagle family. Nick spent his high school years leading the MSD men’s swim team and being involved in challenging Advanced Placement and honors courses the school had to offer. He was a brilliant and athletic Eagle, as his teammates and classmates would describe him. As a child, Nick was always the easygoing kid whose parents were able to take anywhere without a tantrum. His laid-back personality was a trait he held onto growing up, which allowed him to be easily liked and loved by all those around him. “He was a happy, smiley child. He was a very easy child, and we could take him anywhere,” Nick’s mother Annika Dworet said. “We really didn’t change our lives because he was such an easy baby.” Nick had an unparalleled ability to tell stories without ceasing — a characteristic that his parents cherished. His intelligence shined at a young age, as he learned how to swim at 18 months old;
to pronounce the name of the Hawaiian state fish, humuhumunukunukuāpuaʻa, and held engaging conversations with his mother about psychology and medicine. He was a jack of all trades when it came to sports and personal interactions. He came to love any competitive activity whether it be go-karting in Sweden to playing waterpolo and swimming for MSD. He also enjoyed watching motorcycle racing with his grandfather in Sweden over the summers. “He was willing to try anything.
Asian ice cream mochi, and he brought us to Fyr & Ice recently. He loved Blaze Pizza, bubble tea and all that stuff. He was a very adventurous eater.” Beyond high school, Nick had aspirations to compete in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo for Sweden. He was a determined and successful student-athlete who spent much of his time balancing academics with leading swim practice and creating goals that he would post on the walls of his room. His goal-driven characteristics allowed him to achieve scholarships and even an offer to swim for the University of Indianapolis. “Nick was determined and very hardworking; he was a role model to me because when he put his mind on something, he would always achieve it. He would always push everyone to their full potential and ability,” MSD swim team member Guillermo Barrios said. “He never the swim club, he would also speak to the quiet kid, not just to the ones he was complained when he had a hard practice or a hard test; he would instead make sure having fun with.” to train harder or study harder so the next In addition, Nick had a large appetite for new, delicious foods — something his time he’s ready for another challenge.” In Nick’s room, his most recent family and friends remember quite fondly inspirational quote on his whiteboard was of him. He would go out of his way to discover new restaurants and shops in the one that summarized Nick as a person area to take his girlfriend, Daria Chiarella, from American motivational speaker Eric Thomas: “When you want to succeed as and brother, Alexander Dworet, to. bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be “Favorite foods ran the gamut,” successful.” Mitchell Dworet said. “He loved sushi Nick met with one of his role models, buffets — Santos was his favorite, the open-minded in every situation. “I love hugging him, jumping in bed and cuddling. He was becoming an 18-year-old, but still [he was] very approachable and thoughtful. Nick was an empathetic guy,” Nick’s father Mitchell Dworet said. Nick loved far and wide, which was evident in his actions, smiles and affection. “He was a very lovable person. He would always say ‘I love you,’ hug you and kiss you,” Annika Dworet said. “In
Life will rarely go the way you expect it to go; all you can do is hope for the best and be happy with what you get, and all I know is that I am.
There’s this special fish in Sweden, surströmming, and he was very adamant that we try this smelly fish this summer. Nobody would allow us to open the can in the house, so we had to go to the forest to open the can,” Annika Dworet said. “So Nicholas would be the one to open the can, and nobody tried it.” Nick’s parents describe him as a kid who always stayed the same thoughtful, caring and friendly boy he always was. His parents rarely yelled at him because he was a good son and brother, who was
08 In Memoriam •Nicholas Dworet
Design by Christy Ma
Olympic gold medalist Sarah Sjöström, at the Swedish Nationals for swimming over the summer of 2017. She followed the Valentine’s Day incident with a post on Instagram sharing a picture of her and Nick together, along with a screenshot of the headline of the Florida shooting in Swedish news. “I have no words!! My thoughts and condolences go to Nicholas Dworet’s family and friends,” Sjöström said in her Instagram caption on Feb. 16. Nick’s teammates describe him as someone who kept swimming, even when it was challenging to beat his own record, or if it seemed repetitive. His love for the sport was something he wanted to share with his teammates, and so he pushed his peers to train and even caused some of them to develop a love of the sport. “He fell in love with the sport, and he made sure that all of his teammates did as well. He was a true leader and captain for the swim team, he was the one that made sure that every single one of the swimmers left everything they had in their races as he did himself,” Barrios said. “He truly was the one to look up to in the team.” Nick lived up to his title as swim team captain, as he was both a district and regional champion who achieved fifth place in November at the Class 4A state swimming and diving championships for
the 100-yard freestyle, setting a personal record of 46.53 seconds. “I used to look up to him,” MSD swim team member Patrick Franzino said. “When I first came here, he was the fastest swimmer, and every time he lapped me, he would say ‘that’s okay bud.’ He’s always motivated me to become a better person and swimmer.” Nick was a lighthearted young man who used his passion for all sorts of music to create a friendly, playful ambiance on the bus rides to and from swim meets. “He was always the bus DJ when we would go to and from meets. He would blast his playlist throughout the bus,” sophomore Katrina White said. His family describes him as a person who found joy in all aspects of life, as he would enjoy blasting loud music in the shower and in the car, going on outdoor runs, getting ice cream with his brother and father and indulging in one of his favorite treats: Oreos. “His hobbies include eating Oreos, swimming, swimming, swimming and always smiling; literally, he couldn’t stop grinning,” MSD swim team member Cody Chin said. Nick kept a secret supply of Oreos in his room, some of which were even limited edition flavored Oreos. He treasured the snack and hid them in his room because his parents were not big
fans of the sweet. “He had a secret Oreo stash,” MSD swim team member Justin Irwin said. “He collected different kinds of Oreo flavors, and his parents didn’t really like junk food that much, but he had all the flavors hidden in there.” Nick was also a fan of the clothing brand Supreme, often purchasing trendy Supreme clothing and items from other clothing brands such as Polo Ralph Lauren, H&M and Lululemon Athletica for men. “He was very into the Supreme brand. He got a lot of their stuff,” Irwin said. “In my car, the sun visor’s broken, and it’s not worth it to fix it to me, so I have a chopstick holding it up, but he got in my car one day and knocked the chopstick down, and he kept telling me from that day on that he was going to get me a Supreme chopstick so my car can be styling.” Nick enjoyed traveling as well, especially making trips to Sweden to visit his beloved aunts, uncles and grandparents, who he called “MorFar” and “MorMor.” According to his family, he was eager to learn the Swedish language and culture, as he was very proud of his heritage. His last time in Sweden in the summer of 2017 was a special one, since Nick was able to bring his long-term girlfriend
along with his family to his country of origin. His pictures on social media show how the two enjoyed their time in Europe and were able to spend every loving moment together home in Florida as well. His Instagram account also displays the competitions and achievements he has received, with captions giving thanks to the support from his girlfriend, family, coaches and friends. His presence will be greatly missed, but his family and friends are grateful for the life and joy he gave for the 17, almost 18 years he was here. His birthday was nearing, and March 24 would have marked his first day as a legal adult. “Life will rarely go the way you expect it to go; all you can do is hope for the best and be happy with what you get, and all I know is that I am,” Nick wrote in his conclusion for a recent English essay assignment. “Keep on keeping on” is a quote underlined by Nick in the most recent book that he read, “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. Even in his absence, he is able to inspire and motivate others through his legacy. His final notes remind the MSD community and family that this tragedy and the loss of these strong Eagles will not stop positivity, passion and unity from rising up again. Story by Christy Ma; photos courtesy of Annika and Mitchell Dworet
In Memoriam • Nicolas Dworet 09
Jaime Guttenberg K nown as a “little firecracker,” Jaime Taylor Guttenberg lit up any room she walked into. Whether she put all of her energy into dance, school or her family and friends, Jaime had a hunger for adventure that made her passionate about anything that she set her heart on. Fourteen-year-old Jaime was born on July 13, 2003 in South Florida. She was the daughter of Jennifer and Fred Guttenberg and the younger sister of her 17-year-old brother, Jesse Guttenberg. Throughout her life, Jaime was smart, dedicated, loving and compassionate. “Jaime was the best daughter ever, the best sister ever and the best friend ever,” Jaime’s mother Jennifer Guttenberg said. Jaime’s friends would also describe her as energetic and feisty. With her big smile, Jaime was known to cheer anyone up and spread happiness wherever she went. “Jaime’s personality was crazy. She was literally just a little ball of energy; there isn’t another way to describe her,” senior Jessica Luckman said. “She never failed to light up the room or to make someone laugh.” Jaime attended Country Hills Elementary School and then Coral
Springs Middle School. She transferred to Westglades Middle School in seventh grade where she already had many friends attending the school. Jaime was known for her sheer dedication to dance. She was extremely talented and amazed others with her flexibility. She also worked very hard to increase her knowledge of different choreography and styles. “She caught my eye with her flexibility but caught my heart with her humor and determination,” team director Danielle Mednick said. “I’m the type of teacher who could care less about your talent, but rather your will to work and never give up. Jaime never gave up.” Jaime was a part of the Dance Theatre Extreme Team and danced for at least 13 hours a week in the Parkland studio. In addition to the weekly training, she also attended dance competitions and once took home second place for her solo. “I had the team write ‘why they dance’ three years ago,” Mednick said. “Jaime wrote a long essay, but what she said, it’s exactly what she stands for: ‘I dance because it makes me feel possibilities are endless and limits don’t exist. Every time I leap, I feel as though I’ve touched the
10 In Memoriam • Jaime Guttenberg
stars.’” To honor Jaime, a dance mom in Los Angeles came up with the idea to wear orange ribbons to their dance competition, since orange was Jaime’s favorite color. After posting this to Facebook, studios across the nation have worn orange ribbons to show their support. The movement has spread worldwide with thousands of people donning the ribbons and sharing their support on social media, including the American Ballet Theatre in New York, where performers wore orange ribbons during their performances. However, the support has not stopped with dance studios. Members of Dance Theatre performed on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, and not only did the staff of professional dancers wear orange ribbons for Jaime, but the guests aboard the ship did as well. Additionally, the casts of well-known plays, such as “Hamilton” and “Phantom of the Opera,” have worn orange ribbons during their performances to show support. “The overwhelming support from the ship dancers, as well as complete strangers, was honestly insane,” sophomore Alyssa Goldfarb said. “We’d be in random places, and passengers
would come up to us to ask if we were the dancers from Parkland. They would offer their condolences for Jaime, and many would tell us they were coming to our performance to support us and her.” In the room where Jaime rehearsed at the dance studio, the DTX has a chalkboard wall that is covered with different quotes and messages. At the beginning of the 2017-2018 dance season, all of the team members wrote quotes that inspired them on the wall. Jaime wrote, “dreams and dedication are a powerful combination.” “To preserve her quote, one of the dads on our team sealed it and put plexiglass over it to make sure nothing ever happened to it,” Luckman said. “We then erased all the other quotes we had written around it.” In addition to dancing, Jaime loved to listen to music. According to her friends, her favorite song was “Rewrite the Stars” from “The Greatest Showman,” and she could always be found singing karaoke or making up dance moves to the lyrics. Along with dancing and singing, Jaime was known for her love of cheese. Whether she had mounds of parmesan cheese on her pasta or was eating Cheez-It crackers,
Design by Brianna Fisher
She was literally just a little ball of energy; there just isn’t another way to describe her. She never failed to light up the room or to make someone laugh.
she always had the biggest smile on her face. “One time we were at Pasquale’s, and she decided to ask for an extra plate so that she could open the parmesan cheese and dump the entire thing on her plate,” freshman Lexi Sealy said. “I forced her to eat it with a spoon because it was so disgusting to see her eating it with her fingers, no matter how much she loved it.” Jaime always made it a priority to get to know people, especially her teachers. She was able to open up and state her opinion without embarrassing anyone in the process. Her easygoing mentality allowed her to easily make friends and bond with people. “My relationship with most of my students is very personal. Besides being their teacher and their instructor, I work with becoming friendly with them as well,” DECA teacher Mitchell Albert said. “It came very naturally for Jaime and I. I knew her grandmother, who used to be the secretary at our front office, so I made an attempt to get to know her at the beginning, and it just blossomed from there.” After arriving at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Jaime became very involved with DECA, an international
association that prepares high school students for the workforce in business. Jaime was in the finance class and regularly attended their field trips, including the trips to Disney World and the Miami Heat’s court. Jaime also qualified to attend Florida DECA CDC, a statewide competition, which took place from March 1-4. “At DECA States, the organization gave out four scholarships to DECA students in honor of the four victims that were involved with DECA, including Jaime,” sophomore Hannah Levine said. “It is really heartwarming to know that she continues to help people and leave an amazing legacy.” Jaime was very passionate about trying her hardest at any task. As a straight-A student, Jaime was motivated and determined to achieve her goals. She never gave up and always encouraged others to work hard so that they could succeed. “Jaime was very genuine. You run into all types of people in high school and with her, she probably wanted to get to know you, and she wanted to share her thoughts and dreams with you,” Albert said. “Everything she did she went for. She did her best with her DECA competition
and always did her best with her dance competitions. She did her best with her work, and for a freshman, it was a little unique because not all freshman do their best since they think they are just a freshman.” Many people also classify Jaime as outgoing. She was always the first person to crack a joke, and she never stopped making people laugh. “I know everyone says it, but Jaime was really the funniest person and the life of the party, and she always wanted to make sure that others were put before herself,” Sealy said. “I don’t think that you can find a lot of people these days with that quality.” In the future, Jaime wanted to become a pediatric physical therapist to be able to help children with limb deformities. While Jaime was working toward that goal, she volunteered with organizations, such as the Friendship Initiative, helping out those with disabilities. Jaime also worked with children with special needs through dance and fitness classes and was a member of the Best Buddies club at MSD. “I just want everyone to know that Jaime was so much more than just an image plastered on the news because she
was so kind, and she would even help her neighbor who had a disability,” Goldfarb said. “She spent a lot of time helping others and was just an all-around great girl.” Jaime has left a lasting impact, not only on her friends, but also on people around the world. Even in hard times, Jaime was able to look on the bright side and find a positive aspect to focus on. “Jaime impacted my life, and I don’t know if she even realized it. That’s the type of person she was, though; she couldn’t not impact your life,” Luckman said. “Even when she was complaining about something, she still found the good in it. She always knew how to make you smile.” Jaime looked at a situation with a glass half full type of attitude. Her confident outlook on life transferred positive energy to any room that she walked into. Jaime’s love for her family and friends and her passion for dance will always be remembered and cherished by those who were close to her. Jaime will forever be in the hearts of the people whose lives she has impacted so greatly. Story by Brianna Fisher; photos courtesy of Lyndsey Sponder and Jennifer Guttenberg
In Memorium • Jamie Guttenberg 11
uke Thomas Hoyer, lovingly referred to as “Lukey Bear” by his family, was a bright 15-year-old and was known for his reserved attitude. His friends knew him best for his quick-witted personality and different attitudes towards strangers and friends. He was born on Oct. 25, 2002 in Louisville, Colorado to his parents Gena and Tom Hoyer, and is survived by his sister, Abby Hoyer and his brother, Jake Hoyer. Luke was a loving teenager known not only for his vibrant personality but also for his passion for basketball, video games and chicken nuggets. Luke may not have been known by all his classmates, but he certainly left an impact on those who got to know him. Luke, who was known by a majority of his peers for his reserved and quiet behavior when not with close friends, was the absolute epitome of positivity to his friends and family who loved him dearly. Like many others who were lucky enough to have developed a deeper bond with him, close family friend Tyler Gaffney saw the glowing personality beneath Luke’s quiet outer shell. “Although a man of few words, Luke was a truly kind soul that had put others before himself. If you were lucky enough to know him well, you knew of his profound imitation skills; [he was] always joking in good fun,” Gaffney said. Often times, Luke did not have to speak much to have his presence felt. According to his friends, his actions and smile did the talking for him. The young man was always looking to have fun. While he appeared quiet on the surface, building up a hard outer shell and mysterious personality for those he did not know, his friends knew the true Luke who could always make them smile and laugh. “Luke was the king of one-word answers; he would answer his friends with more, but never to adults… He was a very quiet kid but very funny, always had a contagious smile, and it made you feel better when you saw it,” freshman Luke Rothstein said. Luke’s family recounted the comical attempts to get more than a one-wordanswer out of him. In order to get around this obstacle, his family would ask him complicated questions that would warrant a sentence or two, requiring him to elaborate. Social studies teacher Ernie Rospierski was Luke’s favorite teacher. Rospierski, a known comedian to many of his students,
Design by Jacob Brown
on his face, he kept quiet and was a sweet student. In his Spanish class, Luke was active and talkative with his close friends. He was working on a Spanish presentation with his group prior to Valentine’s Day, and was supposed to present it in class a few days later. “He had excellent friends in my class, and he was a happy person, [which is] something I will always remember [of] Luke,” Spanish teacher Lilian Viloria said. “Luke was one of the excellent students in my class, and I miss him a lot. That was the most difficult part, when I come back and don’t see him, with an empty chair.” Viloria also recalls Luke as someone who was passionate for basketball, often talking about the sport with his classmates and planning games with his friends. “He loved his basketball and I could tell that was his passion,” Viloria said. “It was one of the things I know he would probably pursue.” As an avid basketball player, Luke constantly worked towards becoming the best player he could be. He admired Golden State Warriors player Stephen Curry, and constantly worked on his three-point shot at Terramar Park in the Parkland Recreation Basketball League to and he would always be considerate of While Luke was not a man of many emulate Curry. words, his tone and speech with the words others’ emotions, taking the time to talk A dual-sport athlete, Luke was a he spoke did leave a mark on those around with friends who needed it. According member of the Parkland youth basketball to Laggan, Luke was always there for him. Many of his friends gushed about league and had plans of playing for the him, describing him as an amazing person her in times of need. He embodied the characteristics of a good friend and made MSD football team beginning in his who touched their lives in a way that no sophomore year. it his mission to cheer her up. one else could. Known as a quiet kid, Luke had a work “No matter what you would talk to him “All the years I spent with him, he had about, he would always be able to respond ethic that would impress even the most to be one of the nicest kids I will ever dedicated of athletes — something that meet. He always knew how to put a smile caringly,” Laggan said. was noticed by everyone, yet Luke never While some students loved video on my face,” St. Thomas Aquinas freshman games, and others were passionate about bragged about it. He was an extremely Sophia Laggan said. dance or running, Luke particularly loved hard worker, but at the same time he Freshman Zach Spiegel recalls one was incredibly humble and easygoing memory of Luke that truly epitomizes his chicken nuggets. His friends and family according to his loved ones. Luke knew knew of Luke’s love for chicken nuggets, personality away from friends. when it was time to go to work and when “In my class we had together, we were and days after his passing, a group of it was time to mess around and have fun. drafting countries for the mock Olympics, his friends, including senior Matthew Although he was a new member of the Horowitz and freshman Stephanie and when it was his turn, he just kept MSD family, Luke will always be an Eagle Horowitz, got together for a meal of laughing and giving one-word answers and in the hearts of other Eagles. His to anything our teacher asked. When our chicken nuggets in his honor. bright demeanor and loving energy will be “We went to BJ’s and ordered chicken teacher asked why, he responded ‘cuz.’ remembered by all who knew him. Luke’s nuggets — something Luke always loved. It was funny; Luke had the whole class zest for chicken nuggets, basketball and laughing, [even though] the teacher didn’t We felt it was a good way to remember him in a positive light, doing something he life is something that will never be taken think it was so funny,” Spiegel said. from the people who remember him. truly enjoyed,” Matthew Horowitz said. His immense kindness and loyalty This world was blessed with Luke’s In school, Luke was involved in DECA were accompanied by his sharp sense of presence, and the MSD family will never humor. His dry and witty comments never and posthumously received an honorary forget his smile nor the profound impact scholarship. His DECA teacher Lisa failed to make those around him burst he had on the lives of those who knew Webster had only kind words to explain into laughter, and he would often enjoy him. Story by Tyler Avron and Christy Ma; his presence in her classroom. She laughing along with them. photos courtesy of Gena Hoyer expalined that Luke always had a smile “Luke liked laughing, and that’s how explained that Luke had impacted his life while a student in his class. He recalls a life lesson he learned from Luke from his time teaching him. “One thing I’ll always remember and learn from him is to appreciate my friends and not let anything get in the way of them knowing,” Rospierski said. “He was a special kid no doubt.” Luke experienced this method firsthand, as him and Rospierski shared a close personal bond. Rospierski remembers the quiet but evident presence Luke brought in any room he was in. His fondest memories of Luke include his incredibly positive attitude and heartwarming smile. “I think about Luke now, and I can just see his goofy smile,” Rospierski said. “On the outside he’s like your typical freshman high school boy; [he] loves chicken nuggets, talking to his friends and [playing] sports.”
we want to remember him,” Luke’s father Tom Hoyer said. “There is no way to overcome the pain, but laughing helps. If you see us around, it’s okay to laugh with us. We remember Luke that way.” Luke brought happiness wherever he went, and those around Luke knew of his radiant smile. His character never failed to lift the spirits of those around him. “Although he was quiet and unassuming, he had a big presence. He was always ready for a good laugh and he really knew how to make everyone around him smile,” Luke’s sister Abby Hoyer said. Even in his pictures, Luke can always be found grinning and posing with his thumbs up, exemplifying the optimism and positivity that radiated from his presence. When he wasn’t cracking jokes, he was always engaging in conversations with his friends. He was a great listener,
He was a very quiet kid but very funny, always had a contagious smile, and it made you feel better when you saw it.
In Memoriam • Luke Hoyer 13
Design by Einav Cohen
ara Marie Loughran, a fun-loving, generous and caring young girl, radiated with positivity and always carried a bright smile on her face everywhere she went. Although often timid and quiet, Cara always had something nice to say about others and about life. She looked forward to experiencing everything the world had to offer her and always made friends wherever she went. “She was just a happy, happy person. She enjoyed life. And she walked into the room, and always just lit everybody up,” Cara’s mother Denise Loughran said. Cara was born on Feb. 21, 2003 in Boca Raton, Florida to Denise and Damian Loughran. She was in her freshman year of high school and was almost 15 years old. Despite being so young, she touched the lives of many people throughout her life. Her friends and family say she had a very memorable, cheery personality, as she was always trying to make others happy and convince them to join her on her next adventure. “She did not have a mean bone in her body,” freshman Mackenzie Mirsky said. “She would always light up the room, put a smile on everyone’s faces and laugh at the silliest things.” Most of her friends loved how naturally happy she was, as her smile brought joy to all those she met. There was rarely a day when Cara did not smile. Her laugh was contagious; she could make anyone around her happy within seconds, which is what her friends and family remember about her the most. “Her smile lit up the room, her giggles were contagious, and her presence brought us so much joy,” freshman Madison Mirsky said. “Anyone that knew her will cherish her forever.” Cara was always a very happy, upbeat person, but the thing that made her the happiest was her unique passion: Irish dancing. She was very in tune with her Irish heritage. The family regularly took visits to Ireland to visit Cara’s grandparents, Paddy and Ellie Loughran. Several Irish dance schools around the country have shown their support for Cara by wearing purple ribbons in her honor, posting pictures of the dancers on social media. Cara was an elegant dancer who studied at the Drake School of Irish Dance in Coral Springs. She danced at a different location years before, but decided to take
it up again after seeing “Riverdance,” a theatrical show featuring Irish dancing. After that, she persuaded two of her friends to join her and spread her passion to them. She would continuously dance; even when she made a mistake, she would just laugh it off and keep on smiling. “She would always be on the side practicing, I don’t think I ever saw her sit down.” Irish dance teacher Christina Descy. “I really loved that about her, she was really determined and dedicated.” After gracefully dancing at the studio, she would head over to gymnastics training where she would practice her flips and other tricks, looking up to Olympic gymnasts like Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman. She was a girl of many talents, and these skills continued in the classroom. Cara loved school and was fascinated by learning, especially in English and history. As a history buff, she she was fascinated with World War II and found
so much life. I will always remember her beautiful smile.” She was the type of person who was able to start a conversation with anyone. In school, even if she was not close with the person sitting next to her, she would have discussions about what they were learning and spark new friendships. When with her friends, she liked to joke around, tell funny stories and laugh. She also liked being creative and doing crafts, decorating everything with her favorite colors, turquoise and purple. She and her friends loved to participate in DIY projects like tie-dying shirts. However, she liked to spend most of her time with her friends outside in the sun. She was always looking for something new to try and an adventure to embark on. She always found an adventure at the beach, which was her favorite place to be, according to her mother. Cara began swimming before she turned 1 year old and instantly fell in love with it. Even
loved being near the water.” Her bubbly personality reflected her upbeat taste in music. She enjoyed jamming out to a mixture of pop, country and Disney music while eating candy and other sweets. Her meal of choice was always something Italian, particularly pasta and pizza. “She wasn’t a person who had any strong feelings towards one thing,” freshman Navya Nair said. “She liked almost anything.” Cara and her family attended Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Church, where she was confirmed and volunteered with the religious education classes every Monday. She would photocopy papers, help the instructor and sometimes even teach the class with her fellow volunteers. “In class Cara and I would go up in front of the class and teach a lesson or talk about an important Saint,” freshman Samantha Husar said. “One time in class, our teacher was sick, so we had to teach a lesson, and she was very help and always there for the kids.” Cara had many goals in life, including going to college, getting a job and having a family, although she was never quite sure of what she wanted to be when she grew up. She was a big dreamer, who wanted great things to come from the world. Cara wanted to help make the world a better place through whatever career she though she was not on a swim team, she decided to pursue. loved being in and near the water. She These virtues were instilled by her would surf, play and bask in the sun for loving family whom she spent a lot of hours on end at the beach all year. time with. She was a very family-oriented When she wasn’t out and about person who especially enjoyed caring for seeking adventure, she was at home indulging in D.C. Comics television shows her younger cousins. The close-knit family took frequent trips to the beach and pool with her friends, such as her favorite, and vacations each summer. Despite their “The Flash,” which she watched every week. She loved Disney and Marvel movies three-year age difference, her and her brother, senior Liam Loughran, had a and was hoping to receive the “Thor: strong bond and rarely fought. Her friends Ragnarok” movie for her birthday. In said that they would always liked to hang addition to her adoration of superhero out and be around each other. films, she had a secret admiration for Cara left a significant impact on so the new movie musical, “The Greatest Showman.” As birthday celebrations, her many people. Her smile and laugh will and her friends would often go see newly forever be in everyone’s memory. Those in her life feel an emptiness without her, released movies. and she is greatly missed. Her friends’ and As a child, she loved family trips family’s memories of her beautiful smile to Disney World and exploring the and charismatic personality will never fantastical worlds the characters lived in. While this passion faded with age, her be forgotten. Her seat in her classes may not be there anymore, but her place in adoration of mermaids persisted. our hearts will never be replaced. Story by “Last summer we were at the beach, Mackenzie Quinn; photos courtesy of Denise and her friend and her brother buried Loughran, Ella Singer, Preethika Praveen and her like a mermaid...” Denise Loughran said. “She thought that was great. She just Lexie Sealy
She did not have a mean bone in her body. She would always light up the room, put a smile on everyone’s faces, and laugh at the silliest things.
the Holocaust the most interesting, in addition to life science. Cara did very well in all of her classes and was always willing to help a confused classmate or work on a project with her friends. She liked reading and interacting in her English class, where she often contributed greatly to classroom discussions. As an honor roll student, Cara was extremely intelligent and won academic awards in middle school. She knew when it was a good time to be serious and when it was okay to joke around during class. Her sharp focus in class continued after school in the extracurricular organizations she participated in. She was a passionate member of the Best Buddies Club and the Key Club and hoped to become more involved in them as she got older. The Best Buddies Club continues to take 17 seconds of silence every meeting to remember Cara and the other lost members of the club. “Cara was always smiling and had a positive attitude,” English teacher Brittany Sinitch said. “She was caring, demonstrated empathy and was full of
14 In Memoriam • Cara Loughran
For me, it was always Gina’s smile that I remember — the way she could light up the room.
Design by Suzanna Barna
ina Rose Montalto radiated positivity into the world, spreading joy to all those she met. Her selflessness, determination and compassion for everyone and everything made her the kindest soul her parents ever met and the nicest person to her friends. “Gina’s greatest talent was brightening a room. She was always happy walking around with a big smile on her face,” Gina’s former babysitter Mary Hutchinson said. Born on April 22, 2003, Gina’s spirit, full of optimism and kindness, will forever be ingrained in the minds of those she knew. “She’s everything; she was nice and caring and selfless. She would do anything for anyone, whether she knew you or not,” freshman Julia Brighton said. “I remember the time there was a bug on the floor, and Gina stopped everything she was doing just to help it.” Gina took an active role in life, spending most of her hours with others whether it be family, friends or any of her various organizations. Gina’s altruism was reflected by her participation in Girl Scouts, the Friendship Initiative, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s Interact Club and her youth group at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church. Gina found pleasure and reward in volunteering her time to the community and wildlife. Her positive attitude spread excitement to all those she worked with, encouraging everyone to participate with a smile on their faces. Gina began her involvement with the Girl Scouts of the United States of America organization as a Daisy. Gina’s troop, Troop 10581, was one of the few local troops that provided its girls with the opportunity to earn a Gold Award, the highest level of achievement for a Girl Scout that is awarded to members who demonstrate strong leadership and service. Gina hoped to earn this award, but had yet to meet all of the requirements. One of Gina’s favorite activities was selling Girl Scout cookies. This year in high school especially, she thoroughly enjoyed the experience, as she could walk down the halls of the school and sell dozens each day, meeting new peers and showing off her membership. Apart from her love of Girl Scout cookies, Gina travelled often with her troop on camping trips. She travelled to Savannah, Georgia and Orlando, Florida with her troop and loved spending time with the friends she made there. Gina was
also particularly close with Phyllis Bejune, her troop leader who guided her on the path to earn her so desired Gold Award and to become a leader. “Gina was a great Girl Scout; she was a leader for the younger ones and friend to girls her age. She was willing to learn new things, so that she was able to teach other girls these skills,” Bejune said. “Gina was a part of the Leadership Institute, which is only for older Girl Scouts. She took her role of historian last year very seriously and was excited to be the secretary this year.” Gina often camped with her Girl Scouts as well; surrounded by nature, she learned about the necessity to preserve the life around her and how to do it. Gina’s friends noted her affection towards all animals, especially dogs. After finishing her religious education classes, Gina joined her church’s youth group where she made friends and contributed to the community. Gina held her faith dear to her heart, always thanking God for the blessed life she lived. Gina was a parishioner at Mary Help of Christians Catholic Church, but attended religious education classes and youth group at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church. When she had some down time from her many activities and academics, Gina engaged in the common practice of “binge watching” television shows. She had nearly caught up to the current season of “Grey’s Anatomy,” a show with 14 seasons. Gina also enjoyed “Supernatural,” identifying with Castiel, the Lord of the Angels in the series who had handsome looks and an honorable and heroic personality. As an avid reader and huge fan of “Harry Potter” and “Percy Jackson,” Gina was enamored with the stories of characters who displayed empathy, passion and bravery through their adventures. One of Gina’s favorite quotes from author Rick Riordan was “I’m not choosing one of your paths. I’m making my own.” Gina also dabbled in skiing, surfboarding, snorkeling and other recreational sports, such as tennis, flag football and soccer. As people remember Gina for her various character traits, one commonality has been the radiance of her infectious smile. Her grin would spread from ear to ear and brighten the moods of everyone who witnessed it. “For me, it was always Gina’s smile that I remember — the way she could light up
the room,” Gina’s father Tony Montalto said. Gina lived vibrantly with her heart on her sleeve each day. Her free spirit had no regard for the judgement of others, as she fully embraced her quirkiness and uniqueness to display to the world. “She would wear whatever she thought was awesome; she’d wear something from the 1950s, and she wouldn’t even care [what others thought],” Brighton said. Gina’s uniqueness and compassion made her a fun-loving spirit with all those she met. “Everything she did had to have some sort of flare to it,” Brighton said. “She wouldn’t just have a white poster with words on it; she would have a bright pink poster with hearts on it and flowers and lime green,” Brighton said. In addition to her caring and quirky personality, Gina excelled academically. She was enrolled in honors classes and maintained high marks while also participating in many extracurricular activities. “She was beautiful, bright, articulate and an all-round fabulous student. When no one else raised their hand, she would,” geometry teacher Zipora Lazarus said. “The world lost an amazing young lady.” Gina took pride in her grades and achievements, but never failed to ensure that her humility shined through, never bragging or gloating to others. Also, Gina, caring and selfless, would never shy from helping a friend when they were in need. “She was very good at math, and I was always asking for her help because she was better than I was or will ever be,” sophomore Lauren Garnecki said. At school, she participated in color guard and the art program. Since joining Westglades’ JV color guard in eighth grade, Gina had adored the program. She continued with it into high school and found herself committing three days a week toward competition practice in the Eagle Regiment. Color guard pushed Gina to think competitively, exemplified by her fierce determination and extensive, selfmotivated practice when she struggled with the J toss, a move in color guard that twists a flag around in a J-shaped motion. While bettering her own skills, Gina spread her tenacity for success to her fellow color guard teammates, encouraging them to never give up and keep practicing. “Every single day she would be motivating me,” color guard teammate Marla Eveillard said. “No matter what
kind of day we [were] having, she’d just be smiling and if she was upset, it would be the shortest thing, and she would be smiling again.” Opposed to quitting like many people would, Gina constantly worked on the J toss, eventually completing the toss for the state competition. Her hard work paid off when the Eagle Regiment won first place overall, an award in which they placed second in previous years. Art was Gina’s favorite subject since elementary school when she began doodling and coloring. Since then, Gina had always taken the class in school. During her freshman year, Gina took 2D Studio Art I with Lauren Rosa, and previously she had drawn for a former local magazine called Spotlight Families as well, sharing her gift to the public. Spotlight Families will be releasing a special edition as a tribute to Gina and the other 16 victims. As busy as Gina was, she always had time to spend with her family. Whether it be annually cooking on St. Patrick’s Day, spending time with her many Florida relatives every week or travelling on vacations with neighborhood friends. Gina always made memories with her family and cherished their time together. Her family visited numerous places in the United States and Mexico over the years, and Gina most recently proposed taking a trip to Europe to which her parents agreed. “She didn’t want a big party; she just wanted to go to Paris for her 16th birthday,” Gina’s mother Jennifer Montalto said. Her mother will never forget the time when Gina was so excited to ride a mechanical bull that she leaped so high to get on the saddle that she landed right on the other side of the bull. Everyone started laughing hysterically, especially Gina. Gina was also close with her younger brother, Anthony Montalto. The pair never fought and got along effortlessly as siblings and friends. “He was not ready to be an only child,” Jennifer Montalto said. “He thought that that would happen when she left for college.” Gina will remain in the hearts of her family and everyone who she met. Her smile will be ingrained in their minds and her love and encouragement in their actions, as the world moves forward without her presence. Story by Suzanna Barna; photos courtsey of Scott Edgar, Lauren Garnecki, Jennifer Montalto and Phyllis Bejune
In Memoriam • Gina Montalto 17
Design by Lauren Newman
hether it be for his flashy blonde-dyed hair, his love for the Venezuelan national soccer team or his relentless support for the Miami Heat and his favorite player, Dwyane Wade, Joaquin Oliver, or “Guac” to those who knew him, brought a smile to the face of everyone he came into contact with. Born on Aug. 4, 2000 in Venezuela to his proud parents Patricia Padauy and Manuel Oliver, Joaquin was always a quiet, noble child. He only spent his first three years in Venezuela, but the impact it left on him would stay with him throughout his life. At 3 years old he moved to the United States, but despite becoming a naturalized citizen in January 2017, Joaquin stayed true to his Venezuelan roots. He supported the protests of his oppressed countrymen through social media, with his posts showing posters with the words, “USA is With Venezuela” and “Gochos,” the nickname for natives of the three Venezuelan Andean states. He also participated in one of the South Florida protests against President Nicolás Maduro. Joaquin lived his life as a moral compass that pointed unwaveringly north. He valued fairness and justice more than just about anything else, believing that everyone deserved to be equal in the eyes of society. He displayed this morality time and time again throughout his life by attending protests and preaching to those close to him about his beliefs. There is no doubt that if Joaquin was here, he would be leading the charge and cheering on the activist movement that has emerged from the students and faculty of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School since Valentine’s Day, according to his friends. “He was always so so fair,” Joaquin’s sister Andrea Ghersi said. “He always used to talk to me about the discrimination thing… In his eyes, everyone deserved to be happy; everyone deserved to have a chance; everyone deserved to have a voice.” After moving from Venezuela, it was hard for his parents, as they worked countless hours to provide for their two children. Because of that, Joaquin developed a very close relationship with his sister, who often took care of him during his childhood. “He was my little baby,” Ghersi said. “When he was a kid, it was me giving him dinner, putting him [in] bed, showering him… Of course there were times when we fought or didn’t speak, but there wasn’t a day that we didn’t say ‘I love you’ to each other.” They continued their close relationship into later years, developing traditions like Sunday night “Game of Thrones” watch parties and frequent conversations about his beloved friends. It was during his time in middle school and early high school, however, that Joaquin transformed. He blossomed from a quiet young boy into a social butterfly
who understood his place in the world and was at peace with himself and his beliefs. He knew who he was and lived as that person unapologetically, never changing himself to please others and sticking true to the moral compass that guided him in life. Unlike most high schoolers, he was comfortable in his own skin and unafraid to display that for the world to see. “He kind of went from a caterpillar to a butterfly,” Ghersi said. “He found who he wanted to be. He would say ‘you gotta be who you are. Who cares what anyone else says?’ He really lived his life to the fullest and stayed true to himself.” Part of his new attitude toward his social life was thanks to his extremely close-knit group of friends that stuck by him through thick and thin, many of them having known each other for years. Their friend group became so close that one’s home was all of their homes, and one’s family was all of their families. They went to parties, dinners and sports games together daily, and it was stranger to see them apart than it was to see them
“I’m a real hothead, and he was literally my saving grace,” senior Darius Trotman said. “He was the only one who could calm me down, to talk me through things… I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him.” One of the greatest bonds that Joaquin had with his friends was their mutual love for watching and playing sports. Starting with baseball as a kid, Joaquin played a number of sports over his childhood years, but he found his calling in his love for basketball. He and his friends walked to Pine Trails Park almost daily since their elementary school days to play basketball. ESPN was always on TV in his house, and when that wasn’t on, he had sportthemed video games booted up, with the different games as various as the sports he played. Joaquin’s love for basketball started from a young age, as he was a Dwyane Wade and Miami Heat fan since he was 4 or 5 years old. “His first build-a-bear was even dressed as Wade,” Ghersi said. “He was so dedicated to basketball, and he looked up
In my class, he knew everybody; everyone was his best friend. He was honestly just the sweetest boy with the biggest heart.
together. From regular pizza runs to hours playing basketball at Pine Trails Park, the 10 or so friends were just about inseparable, and with the time they spent together, it would not be crazy for people to think they were family. Joaquin’s dad even went as far as to build a bunk bed into his room to ensure that there was enough room for his friends to stay over whenever they came by for one of their frequent sleepovers. “Basically my parents are his parents, and his parents are my parents,” senior Julian Decoste said. “We were just always together, always laughing. One of my favorite memories was when we went to Universal together. We were even able to convince this lady to give us fast passes.” Despite the tough-guy exterior he tried to show to the rest of the world, his friends knew that beneath the surface, he was a big softie. Joaquin displayed to those close to him a caring and sweet personality that not everyone was able to see. He always bought thoughtful gifts for his friends, making sure that each gift was tailor-made for the person who would receive it. He knew his friends like the back of his own hand, and because of this he could always tell whenever something was wrong or when one of them was upset, and he would always be the one there for them to help them get through it. Joaquin was an irreplaceable friend to them — someone they could count on even when they felt like the rest of the world did not understand them.
to Wade so much. He was his hero.” Aside from basketball, Joaquin was also very passionate about music. His diverse style of music was the background of his life, since he always walked around with music playing from his phone or on his speaker. He particularly loved Frank Ocean, having multiple posters dedicated to Ocean in his room. Ocean also served as the inspiration for Joaquin to dye his hair blonde, a decision which many MSD students have taken up in his memory. “He had such a different taste in music. It could go from Billy Joel to Gucci — from Frank Ocean to Queen,” Ghersi said. There was one thing, though, that he was more dedicated to than anything else: his cherished girlfriend, junior Victoria González. After months together, he and González knew each other inside and out. They weren’t just each other’s significant others; they were each other’s home and heart. “One time, we were out to dinner, and he said to me, ‘she’s my soulmate,’” Ghersi said. “And I was like ‘no, no, no, you are too young.’ And he said, ‘no, she’s my soulmate. I want to spend my life with her.’ They were just amazing together.” Joaquin’s affection for his girlfriend seemed to know no bounds, and he displayed it in a variety of ways, especially through indulgent and beautiful gifts. He put such immense thought into all of his gifts, thinking about what to get her even during family vacations to Disney. For her last birthday, he got her a telescope, setting it outside her window the night before so that she would be able to see it
when she woke up, apparently worrying about it for days beforehand. Gifted in writing, he also wrote her poetry and letters to demonstrate the extent of his love for her. “I could see from the start how they were together. He had been through relationships before, but I knew that Tori was who he was going to end with,” Decoste said. “He would send me pictures of all his gifts for her the night before, and I would be like, ‘dawg, you snapped. You did so good.’ Like he made an actual scrapbook for her; it looked literally professional.” It wasn’t just in his love letters and poetry that his ability for writing stopped, as he found another passion in the art of the pen. He journaled his feelings daily, taking his anger out in the form of written words rather than with fist fights. Even from a young age, his skill was apparent, but he had only recently begun to understand his true potential as a writer with the help of creative writing teacher Stacy Lippel. “That talent was in him the entire time,” Lippel said. “His writing always had such depth and emotion to it. He wrote a piece about his girlfriend, and when I read it I was like ‘I know I’m an adult, but I am melting right now.’” Since meeting him in his sophomore year, Lippel saw past Joaquin’s exterior for who he truly was. While some adults would dismiss him as an aloof, popular kid, she saw his potential as a man who was not only smart, but also talented and kind. “He could look like a punk sometimes,” Lippel said. “But, he was just so intelligent. I just saw this passion and kindness in him.” The kindness that Lippel saw in him was displayed daily by Joaquin, even if at times it appeared to go unnoticed. Whenever he saw a girl in the hall crying, he would check to see if she was okay and ask how to help. His selflessness and generosity was not limited to any singular group of kids of school, even those he did not know and had no connection to. “In my class, he knew everybody; everyone was his best friend,” Lippel said. “He was honestly just the sweetest boy with the biggest heart of anyone I knew. If he wasn’t there in my class one day, it was very strange, very quiet.” Although he had not yet decided where he was going to go to college, there were a few things about his future that he had already decided on. He was considering going into marketing, and Orlando looked like a good bet if that was the career he wished to pursue, but wherever he went, he wanted to be with his friends and those he loved. No matter what he did in his life, he believed the most important thing he could do was to surround himself with those who made him happy and made him feel as though he was on top of the world. Story by Rebecca Schneid and Lewis Mizen; photos courtesy of Andrea Ghersi and Darius Trotman
In Memoriam • Joaquin Oliver 19
Design by Rebecca Schneid
laina Joann Petty was known for having two distinct sides to her. One was tough, sassy, determined and able to hold her own against anyone. The other was bright, bubbly and silly. Both, though, were equally loved by her friends and family and continue to be what they remember her for. Born on Aug. 22, 2003 in Redmond, Washington, Alaina immediately loved making friends. She grew up doing a variety of activities, such as gymnastics, piano and dance for about three years. Within each of these activities and beyond them, her trustworthy and nonjudgemental attitude allowed her to make friends quickly with almost anybody she met, even through the difficult transition of moving to Florida. “She immediately had friends over almost every day,” Alaina’s brother Patrick Petty said. “Not only was she good at making friends, but she was good at keeping friends. She even still had friends from Washington.” Spending time with her friends in any capacity was one of her favorite things to do. From going to McDonalds to laughing in class, her friends meant the world to her. Her free spirited personality led her to spontaneously ask her friends to go on fun trips and adventures, using her sass and wit to cheer them up in any way she could. “If I was in a bad mood, she would always just do whatever she could, some silly things, to cheer me up,” freshman Julia Brighton said. “She just loved helping people and her friends. Honestly, she put everyone else’s happiness over her own sometimes.” This vivacious attitude came naturally to Alaina, and she possessed it from a young age. Everything she took on she did so with such enthusiasm that it was contagious to those around her. Known as a girl with a smile on her face at all times, it was hard not to be happy when touched by her unwavering optimism. “Sometimes I would get angry or annoyed at something, and she would just tell me to go outside and breathe in the fresh air and see the beautiful things in the world,” Brighton said. “She used to always say to live every day like it was your last, and I think she did that.” Her determination in school and in extracurriculars also pushed her friends to be better. Everything she attempted, she did with fervor. She took honors classes, excelling in school, especially Spanish classes, and in her JROTC program. That passion and perseverance encouraged her friends to work just as hard. “Early in the school year, we had to do a 5K run. She was so winded, but after it she went right to the guy in charge and said ‘alright, what’s next?’ That’s the kind of person she was,” freshman Tomás Valdiviria said. “She pushed me to go that extra mile. And she wouldn’t just help me up when I fell, she taught me how to pick myself up next time. From an early age, she looked up to her siblings, Patrick, Meghan and Ian Petty, immensely. From trying on Meghan’s clothes constantly to emulating Patrick’s sarcasm and his love for the United States to reflecting Ian’s unconditional love, each
20 In Memoriam • Alaina Petty
of her siblings influenced her personality in unique yet equally visible ways. “When she was younger, she was always copying me — wearing my old clothes and copying my mannerisms,” Meghan said. “And I used to think that it was annoying. But now, I think about it, and I’m just so honored because she was such a good person, and yet she still wanted to be like me.” She especially bonded with her brother Patrick over their dedication to the JROTC program. From the moment she started JROTC camp this past summer, she was extremely committed to the program and all those within it. As a member of the Raiders team and the color guard, the class and club were her favorite place to be. “She would always make sure her uniform was just perfect, not because she she had to, but because she wanted to, and she cared about it that much,” Brighton said. “She would drag me to all of the events because she always wanted to be there to help. There was nothing she loved more than that class.” Not only was Alaina passionate about JROTC, but also she worked harder than almost anybody in the room to prove it. By spending hours practicing with the after school teams and presenting herself as a leader in the classroom, Alaina was recognized as a valuable asset within the club early on — someone who had a definite future in moving up the chain of command. In a class often dominated by male students, Alaina held her own and made a place for herself. “She was a go-getter, no doubt about it,” JROTC teacher First Sgt. John Navarra said. “She was pleasantly agressive I would say. She wasn’t afraid of expressing her determination, of thinking outside of the box, of beating to her own drum… But her drive wasn’t selfish, it was kind of like ‘let’s all be better together.’” Alaina’s enduring devotion to the class did not go unnoticed, as she was promoted to sergeant, the highest rank a freshman could achieve, and was awarded the Cadet of the Month award during the second quarter, beating out competitors of all grade levels within the program. From then on, the whole class would joke that Alaina would most certainly end up as the battalion commander by her senior year, commanding over the entirety of the program as the highest rank a high schooler could achieve. The Raiders team captain would even reportedly say that if Alaina kept up the good work, she would put him out of a job. “She came in with such professionalism, such curiosity… both in and out of uniform. From the moment she walked into this room, she was destined to be a leader in this program... She was more than a participating cadet, she wanted to do everything,” Major Peter Mahmood said. Alaina showed a similar dedication to her faith. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, she took her duty to her faith seriously. She participated often at her church, going there after school on Tuesdays for youth group and frequently participating in trips with them. These trips were often community service-based, which was
something that Alaina found great pride in doing. After Hurricane Irma devastated parts of the Keys and South Florida, Alaina worked through multiple weekends to improve the lives of those affected by it. She, along with her brother, dedicated their time not for the recognition, but for the knowledge of the difference they were making in the lives of others. “She was happiest when she was helping others,” Meghan Petty said. “She would spend her weekends going to soup kitchens and just doing things that helped others’ lives, and she loved it more than anything. She felt the most comfortable I think when she was sweating, working hard and making a difference.” Through her camping trips she often took with her church youth group, Alaina began to love nature and animals. In times of stress, nature became a place of solace for her — a place that demonstrated the beauty in the world. Her love for her two dogs, Diego and Leo, demonstrated this love. She would nonstop talk to her friends about her dogs, posting pictures on social media to prove it. “Her Snapchat stories were just full of pictures of her dogs,” Valdiviria said. “She loved those things more than anything in the world. She just spent all the time in the world with them and would talk to me all the time in class about them.” When she wasn’t selflessly devoting her time to others, Alaina loved to de-stress with a good crime show — “Psych” and “Bones” among her favorites. Her siblings and her would sit around after school and watch, just spending the time they could together. Whether she was doing homework or driving, Alaina’s life never ceased to have a tune behind it. Shower time usually turned into a match between Meghan and Alaina over who could play their music the loudest on the portable speaker. Some of her favorites included songs by Camila Cabello and other variations of Hispanic pop music. “She never didn’t have music on,” Meghan said. “She especially loved Spanish music — bachata music like I liked. She knew some songs that I didn’t even know, though; it was crazy… I don’t think she realized how good she actually was at speaking Spanish.” Often, she was eating ramen whenever she could. Her parents even got her her own chopsticks for Christmas as a joke because she ate it so much. If it wasn’t ramen or a mid-day Chick-Fil-A run, Alaina loved to stay home and cook a family dinner with her mother. She was getting to be a better chef every day, according to Patrick. In all aspects of Alaina’s life, she loved unconditionally and with her entire being. If she was passionate about something, which she was about many things, she would make it a priority to be the best at it, not for personal gain, but for the gain of those she could help in the process. Her selflessness and love touched those all around her, and she will be missed by the entirety of the Eagle community and many of those beyond it. Story by Rebecca Schneid; photos courtesy of Meghan Petty and Hannah Beardall
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She wasn’t afraid of expressing her determination, of thinking outside of the box, of beating to her own drum... But her drive wasn’t selfish.
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Design by Nikhita Nookala
Design by Nikhita Nookala
eadow Jade Pollack, affectionately called “Meadie” and “Shmead” by friends and family, was an 18-year-old senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. She was planning to attend Lynn University in Boca Raton in the fall. She was the daughter of Shara Kaplan and Andrew Pollack and was the younger sister of Huck and Hunter Pollack. The youngest of 10 cousins, Meadow was fiercely protected and loved by all of them. “Meadow was the best, and I’m sure you’ve heard it from everyone,” Meadow’s cousin Adam Pollack said. “She lit up every room and was there for you whenever you needed her. I could call her at any time, and she’d help me with whatever I needed.” Meadow’s personality shines through the parking spot that she painted in the senior lot which is bright pink with “Princess Meadow” written in white around a white crown. The two ‘s’s in “princess” are replaced with dollar signs, a trendy addition and one reflective of her personality. Her friends remember her as a kind, bubbly girl with an inexhaustible amount of energy. “She was always the happiest person in the room,” senior Carley Ogozaly said. “If someone was upset, she would always go out of her way to make sure they were okay and always managed to put a smile on their face, no matter what they were dealing with.” Even as a child, Meadow’s propensity for making friends shined through. Her childhood friend, senior Megan Faberman, recalls some of her experiences with Meadow and considers Meadow one of her first real friends, and the one to really teach her about friendship. “She was always very imaginative and creative. She taught me the good things in friendship: how to be there for others, how to care for others, things like that,” Faberman said. “When we were little, we always loved to be outside, going in the pool almost everyday, and Meadow’s mother finally let her have a trampoline, and it was the best day of our lives. Her spirit was so vibrant and kind.” Meadow had a unique way of creating friendships and getting along with her
peers. The solutions were out-of-the-box, but even as a kid, she found a way to make even the most challenging situation work. “I remember one time I didn’t like her other best friend and she didn’t like me so she invited us both over and locked us in a room until we were friends,” Faberman said. “That’s basically the kind of person she was; she brought everyone together and generally just spread so much love to those around her. Although in high school we weren’t as close as we were as kids, I definitely brought with me the aspects of friendship she taught me. She was an obviously gorgeous person, but the type of person she was on the inside, there’s
is something we will have in our hearts forever.” Perez recalls some of her first conversations with Meadow being exceptionally unique and memorable because of the sheer boldness that she could see in Meadow even in the first moments of knowing her. “I met Meadow through her boyfriend, Brandon. When I tell you that we clicked from the second we met, I knew she was gonna be my best friend,” Perez said. “I’ll actually never forget, one of the first things she said to me was that I had such white teeth.” Meadow’s friends and family have been vocal in their efforts to make change and to honor her memory. They have started an initiative called “Meadow’s Movement,” an organization that rallies Meadow’s friends, family and community to make schools safer. The organization was started by her father, Andrew Pollack. In addition to activism, he also wants to build a loved being at the gym because it made her feel so good about herself and took all playground in Meadow’s honor. “This will not be any ordinary her stress away.” playground; this will be built for a Meadow was outgoing and fun, princess,” Andrew Pollack said. “Instead teaching her favorite slang words to of visiting my princess at a graveyard, I her parents and making the most out of will sit on a bench in her playground and every situation. Meadow’s role model in watch other beautiful children play.” life was her mother, Shara Kaplan. She Meadow’s attitude toward life is wanted more than anything to be just like her, a successful mother. She admired as clear as the light in her eyes and is written all over her social media: “Life everything about her, and the two had a is what you make it,” teaching everyone very close relationship. who knew her about embracing the Meadow’s ability to draw everyone present by embodying that statement. in her life to her so closely, almost “Life’s all about who you get to spend like family, is something many found it with and the vibe you choose to bring admirable. Heather Schoengrund, to the table, ask yourself... what is the her long-term boyfriend Brandon intention you want to bring into this Schoengrund’s mother, recalls their world?” she said in a December 2017 close relationship and how she felt that Tweet. Meadow was almost like her daughter. Meadow knew what her intentions “Where do I begin? The bond we had were. She was a girl who looked forward between each other is something that I to moving on in life beyond high school, will forever cherish,” Schoengrund said to take her dreams to the next level and in a public Facebook post addressed to to create a life that she would be proud Meadow. “I am so fortunate for every to share with her close friends and her single minute that I got to spend with warm, tight-knit family. you. I sit here and think about how you Meadow’s life will forever be kept me on my toes, made my groceries remembered with warmth, and she will lists, did laundry. I would come home live on forever as everyone’s “princess.” and the dishwasher would be emptied. Story by Nikhita Nookala; photos courtesy Although it was cut way too short, the time we had with you as part of our lives Andrew Pollack and Carley Ogazaly everything. She did anything that she put her mind to and didn’t let anyone get in her way.” Meadow was someone who loved to go to the beach and found herself there often, contemplating life, her future and her friends. She wanted to tour the whole world with Ogozaly and took as many trips as she could, including a stay in New York. She was independent and loved to exercise in the gym to relieve her stress and improve her physique. “Meadow and I started working out in middle school and until the day everything happened, she’s been my workout buddy,” Ogozaly said. “Meadow
She taught me the good things in friendship, how to be there for others, how to care for others, things like that. Her spirit was so vibrant and kind.
not a word to describe that.” Music played a big role in Meadow’s life and her interests, and her love of rap music was well known by her friends. One of her favorite artists was Kodak Black, whose new albums always excited her, along with popular rapper Cardi B. “[Meadow] sang her song ‘Bodak Yellow’ just about everyday,” senior Nikki Rose said in a Tweet. “Every time I hear the song I think of my BFF’s beautiful smile.” Meadow’s favorite shows were “Dexter” and “Shameless,” demonstrating her love for the provocative and dramatic. She could talk about her favorite shows all day; whenever she visited her boyfriend, Brandon Schoengrund, in his workplace, she would watch her favorite programs in his company. Meadow also shared her affection for her two cats, Lola and Fiona. Meadow’s dreams changed from day to day. Most of the time, however, she wanted to be a lawyer. Meadow’s friend, Amanda Perez, a junior at Palm Beach State College, recounts Meadow’s unique drive and motivation. “She loved going to the gym,” Perez said. “She would watch videos on her phone in her free time on how to work certain machines and work out her body the proper way. She taught herself
In Memoriam • Meadow Pollack 23
Design by Hannah Kapoor
Helena Ramsay A t first glance, Helena Freja Ramsay was the type of girl who kept to herself, an introvert. The few fortunate enough to break through her quiet facade knew she was so much more than her reserved designation. She was kind, compassionate and incredibly loyal, even to her last moments. Helena was born on Jan. 19, 2001 to Anne and Vincent Ramsay in Portsmouth, England. She lives on through her older brother Ellis, an intimate group of friends, the countless stray cats she benevolently fostered and all the students and staff of MSD who will forever remember her name. In 2003, the Ramsay family moved from Hayling Island in Havant, England to Coral Springs, Florida. Helena attended Eagle Ridge Elementary and transferred to Sawgrass Springs Middle School after a year at Coral Springs Middle School. Her British customs gradually faded, but she lived her entire life in awe of the diversity and wonder the world around her held. “Her accent gradually went away,” junior Katherine Dadd, one of Helena’s oldest friends, said. “When we were little she use to say things like ‘hoover’ and ‘dressing gown.’ She even took these etiquette classes where she learned to drink tea.” As a child, Helena was fond of scootering around the neighborhood, playing Pokémon, watching cartoons such as Tom and Jerry and attending playdates with many of the very same friends that lasted until high school. She was creative in all realms, and along with Dadd, she invented a game she played with her older brother Ellis, called “Sumo-Santa.” “He would stuff pillows under his clothes, and we would have to prove that he wasn’t Santa,” Dadd said. “We would playfight and climb all over him, two tiny little girls.” At MSD, Helena participated in Model United Nations for which she represented her home country of England. She loved travel and anticipated exploring the world once she grew up, but could never decide where she wanted to journey next. At the end of eighth grade, Helena was invited to go on a cruise with one her best friends, junior Samantha Grady. The two visited Mexico, Jamaica and Haiti together, which was the dawn of an unshakeable friendship. During spring break of her freshman year, Helena signed up for a trip to Europe with AP Human Geography teacher Ivy Schamis. In a group with a few other girls, they ventured to London, Paris and Barcelona. “When Helena signed up for my trip, I was a little worried about her because I knew she wasn’t loud or pushed herself in,” Schamis said. “But she was great. She had this specific British chocolate bar she loved and made everyone buy. She really had a funny sense of humor once you got to know her.” In her junior year, Helena entered Schamis’ classroom once more for Holocaust History. When students were tasked with an essay on whether or not they believed hate could be eradicated
from the world. Helena was of the few that said yes. “Helena truly thought we could eliminate hate from the world,” Schamis said. “She was so optimistic and just a lovely girl.” As a student, Helena was always hardworking and respectful. She is remembered as the one to always say hello, smile and laugh at everyone else’s silliness. “Whenever I made jokes in class, she would give me this look like ‘really? You’re really making this dad joke right now’ and would then laugh,” chemistry teacher George LePorte said. “Chemistry wasn’t really her thing, but she was one of those people who always tried super hard and was nice to everybody.” Helena’s friends describe her no differently — a so-called introvert who was surprisingly eccentric once she opened up to people. “She was actually really loud at times; it just depended on who she was with,” Dadd said. “When she was with her friends, she could be the loudest person in the room.” Helena was by no means quiet or shy, though many were quick to label her as such. She simply did not need the attention of others to be self-satisfied. “The first thing most people say about her is that she’s quiet. That’s true to an extent, but she’s not as quiet as people think she is,” Grady said. “She was much more outgoing around friends and secretly a little bit crazy.” Once one got to know her, it was apparent that Helena’s quiet demeanor was not to be mistaken for timidness. She had a core set of beliefs and a strong faith that she lived by. Within and beyond her small group of devoted friends, she was never unjust toward anyone. “Even if you were completely crazy, she would accept you, unless you did something to her, then that’s a different story,” Grady said. “She was the most kind person I’ve ever met. She never discriminated against anybody.” Helena accepted everyone, no matter their quirks. It was in her reception towards all, as she embraced herself and the world around her. “She knew she was strange. She knew exactly who she was. I mean, she didn’t know much about her future, but she knew who she was. She never would have apologized for it,” junior Emera Jiminean Stoll said. Helena was a member of First Priority Club, a student-led organization on many middle school and high school campuses dedicated to the devotion of Christ, and volunteered at the Rotary Community Garden and Food Forest of Coral Springs. “She always stuck up for what she believed in. If she didn’t like something, she would just say ‘no,’ whereas I would always compromise. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be who I am personality-wise,” Grady said. When Helena and Grady’s Holocaust History class was ambushed on Feb. 14, Helena attempted to aid her friend in any way she could. When Grady was frozen in shock, Helena was the one to nudge her to the other side of the room, direct her to
24 In Memoriam • Helena Ramsay
shield herself with flimsy books and even push her toward safety. Her compassion and loyalty were ultimately her most notable characteristics. Helena was the friend to complain to, to rant to and to always lend a helping hand. Whether it be carrying a textbook for a friend or a five-hour phone conversation, Helena never rejected anyone who needed her — no matter what was at stake. Her compassion knew no limits even toward animals. “There were these two cats that came into our neighborhood, and she would feed them outside,” Dadd said. “One day, she brought them in, and then one of them had a litter. She kept those cats, and then one of them also had a litter, and then another.” At one point, Helena was caring for almost 13 cats, excluding the few she had bestowed or had run away. Not only was she the compassionate friend, she was oftentimes the “crazy cat lady.” Most of Helena’s relationships consisted of constant inside jokes, laughter and unwavering loyalty. She met Grady when she transferred to Sawgrass Middle School in the seventh grade in civics class. The two bonded in eighth grade science class, as they were of the few heading to MSD. “We had this joke in eighth grade about chicken. I don’t know where it came from, but we would always say ‘chicken this, chicken that’ as substitution for curse words,” Grady said. “We also had acronyms for one another. I was ‘SSBG,’ and she was ‘TMBGITW,’ which stood for ‘Helena the most beautiful girl in the world.’” Staying true to her diverse taste, Helena and Grady bonded over their passion for K-pop and K-dramas, which are forms of Korean entertainment. Helena loved the band, BTS, and one of her favorite shows was a K-drama called “Descendants of the Sun.” Stoll managed to coax her into watching Studio Ghibli films, a Japanese anime company. “She completely loved any romance film and horror. She was watching like every horror film in the world, and I don’t know how she did it,” Grady said. Her love of various genres of music and entertainment sparked bonds that led to the creation of countless precious memories. In her high school years, Helena and her friends had the opportunity to attend multiple concerts such as GOT7, a K-pop group, Twenty One Pilots, Halsey and most recently, Lana del Rey. During her free time, Helena would explore an array of restaurants, ranging from Korean to Indian and Italian. Oftentimes she would venture all the way to Boynton Beach with Grady to shop at a discounted Dillards, since shopping was another one of her many pastimes. “She was a typical teenager, just with a K-pop and K-drama side,” Grady said. During her 17 years, Helena never once let go of her beliefs, her compassion or her quirks. While she was unsure of where life would take her, she was always sure of herself. Story by Hannah Kapoor; photos courtesty of Katherine Dadd, Emera Jiminean Stoll and Amanda De La Cruz
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She knew exactly who she was. I mean she didn’t know much about her future, but she knew who she was. She would have never apologized for it.
In Memoriam • Helena Ramsay 25
Design by Lauren Newman
f there was one word to describe Alexander Logan Schachter, it would be “happy.” His family and friends remember him most for his contagious smile and joyous demeanor. Alex was born on July 9, 2003 to Max and Debbie Schachter in Pembroke Pines, Florida. Since birth, Alex has brought joy and comfort to all those around him. “He was a great friend and role model to not only me, but to everyone around him,” his childhood friend Brandon Litwin said in his eulogy to Alex. Alex loved the exhilaration of riding roller coasters from its peaks to its stomach-dropping troughs, which Alex compared with life itself in a poem he wrote for his freshman English class, “Life is Like a Roller Coaster.” Moreover, Alex was always the upbeat ray of sunshine among his family and friends. He constantly lightened other people’s day through his expressive facial features and wild, spirited attitude. Whether his face cringed in disgust or shined with joy, Alex’s expressions made him like an open book. “Alex didn’t like fat on any steak or chicken, or anything like that; he was disgusted by any fat. If he ate any piece of it, you could tell immediately what was going on by his face,” Alex’s older brother, senior Ryan Schachter said. Alex’s cheerful personality exuded positivity and spread it to those around him. “I will probably miss his disposition most, just because he was always so happy and cheerful; he always brought joy into the room he was in,” Ryan Schachter said. His non-materialistic, laid-back outlook on life was reflected in his simple style; a staple outfit for Alex was his University of Connecticut hoodie that his mother gave him, a tribute to her alma mater. A week after his passing, the University of Connecticut posthumously accepted Alex into the School of Fine Arts as a music major. Alex participated in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School band his freshman year as a baritone player for the Eagle Regiment, the school’s award-winning marching band. The Eagle Regiment requires extensive conditioning for its members with practice three or
four times each week until about 9 p.m., making it a challenge to keep up with academics and other extracurricular activities. “Alex was always happy, very committed and passionate about anything he did, and he always tried to do his best,” Ryan Schachter said. When entering eighth grade, Alex realized the importance of his schooling and quickly improved his grades through a newfound motivation and responsibility for his education and future. Alex had not always been the A student he became in eighth grade, but he continued his academic success into high school. This transformation helped Alex work through the struggles of committing so much time to the Eagle Regiment during his freshman year, while maintaining high marks by gradually learning better time
overjoyed at the outcome: the Eagle Regiment won first place. Alex felt proud of himself and his band teammates, who worked so hard to perform at their greatest caliber for the competition. At school, Alex also was a member of the MSD DECA program in which he took Finance and Business Technology with Lisa Webster. Alex did not qualify for DECA States in his first year enrolled in the program, but he was optimistic about trying again next year. One of his greatest experiences in the program was attending a Miami Heat basketball game as a part of a field trip on Feb. 9 when he got to see Dwayne Wade play in his first game back as a Miami Heat player. Between DECA and band, Alex kept his school extracurricular schedule packed; outside of school, Alex participated in recreational sports leagues at Pine Trails
Alex was always happy, very committed and passionate about anything he did, and he always tried to do his best.
management. Practicing music was never a chore for Alex, as he had a strong passion for playing. In eighth grade, Alex joined band where he thoroughly enjoyed his experience and learned to play the trombone. “Alex was one of the most passionate freshmen coming into marching band at the beginning of the summer and when school started. Since I played baritone for two years before becoming drum major, he would ask me for tips and tricks and always strived to be the best he could,” Eagle Regiment drum major and fellow baritone player Rachael Gorman said. “Alex was an incredible musician and had an insane amount of talent.” Alex used music as a medium for selfexpression, and he truly felt in tune with the world while he did. “He was always just focused, and he just loved making music; it’s what he loved to do,” freshman Jeremy Wechsler said. Alex competed at the Florida Marching Band Championships this year and was
Park, including basketball and football. “You were a natural athlete — a great football player, a natural runner and basketball player and always with perfect sportsmanship,” freshman Brett Lickerman said in his eulogy to Alex. In basketball, Alex played shooting guard and defense, scoring the game-winning three-pointer in the championship game for his fifth grade recreational league team, the Syracuse Orange. “My dad said no threes all season, but in overtime in the championship, he [Alex] made it,” freshman Brett Unger said, whose father is the coach for the championship-winning team. When he wasn’t out on the field, Alex enjoyed playing fantasy football against his closest friends for which he drafted players based on their projected performances for the NFL. His favorite team was the New England Patriots, thanks to his dad’s family, based in the New England region. Moreover, Alex demonstrated his love for sports through his collection of
Fathead sports training cards. Alex had over 25 cards in his collection, which he traded among his friends when he went to Eagles Landing Camp in Boca Raton, Florida each summer since he was 9 years old. In his spare time, Alex entertained himself through playing video games and watching various TV series. His most recent favorite video game was Fortnite, which he played on his Playstation with friends every day. Alex also played Call of Duty and various sport-themed games on his Playstation 4. Alex watched many TV shows as well, including “Naruto,” “Breaking Bad,” “Game of Thrones” and “Lost.” The variety of genres demonstrates Alex’s willingness to try and enjoy new, unique things. Alex even watched “House of Cards” for his brother since it was Ryan Schachter’s favorite show. Although he may not have yet known “what was going on with the politics and processes,” he still watched it anyway, according to Ryan Schachter. His favorite TV character was Naruto Uzumaki, the boisterous and optimistic hero whose ninja values inspired him. Alex was also a car aficionado; he enjoyed cars of all types, but had a specific affinity for Tesla cars. Alex loved his dad’s deep blue metallic Tesla Model S and was looking forward to driving his dad’s new bright red Tesla Model 3 when he earned his learner’s permit upon turning 15. Alex did not always have an easy life; his mother passed away when he was only 4 years old. Despite experiencing this hardship, Alex grew up in a loving family, especially after his father married his stepmother, Caryn Desacia, when he was young, granting him two adoring stepsisters, Morgan and Avery. Alex loved his stepmother and her children like his own, calling her Mom and her daughters his sisters. Alex greatly admired and loved his older brother, Ryan; the pair shared a room for many years and Alex even joined the DECA program on his big brother’s advice. The Schachter family takes solace in the fact that their adored Alex is now with his mother Debbie up in heaven. Story by Kevin Trejos; photos courtesy of Max Schachter
In Memoriam • Alex Schachter 27
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Carmen Schentrup S ixteen-year-old Carmen Marie Schentrup was a unique, intelligent, funny and beautiful individual. Her signature look consisting of teal-dyed hair, winged eyeliner and dark shaded lipstick reflected her boldness and individuality, as she was never afraid to stand out. She was born on Feb. 21, 2001 in Pembroke Pines, Florida to Philip and April Schentrup. She is survived by her older brother Robert and younger sister Evelyn. In the seventh grade, she moved to Parkland, Florida where she attended Westglades Middle School. “She was smart, funny, quirky, sarcastic and witty. I like her confidence in the fact that she embraced being weird and didn’t change for anyone,” Carmen’s brother and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School alumnus Robert Schentrup said. In a public statement, Carmen’s parents characterized her as a mature, beautiful young lady who inspired others and left those around her with endless loving memories of her. “While many people considered Carmen mature beyond her years (she recently joked how people had been asking her how she liked college since she was a freshman), she was still a kid at heart,” her parents said. “She was silly, playful and huggable. As parents, we loved that she never outgrew our hugs and would hug us before she went to bed.” Carmen, who embraced her cynical and sarcastic side, would probably laugh at her being referred to as an “angel,” according to her friends. “As a person, she tried to act mean a lot, and she often freely admitted to doing it. However, it was pretty easy to see that it wasn’t the real her, as much as she wanted to call herself a narcissist or evil or whatever,” senior Zach Huang said. “Although I used to play along with it, I always knew she was one of the nicest people I knew, even though we both called each other some pretty bad things all the time.” Her friends describe her as witty and caring with unparalleled intelligence even though she was the youngest student in the senior class, having completed both first and second grade within one school year. As a National Merit finalist and straight-A student, Carmen was greatly admired by her classmates and teachers alike. “What teacher wouldn’t have loved to
homecoming, and she told me how she convinced her mom to buy her a new pair of heels because ‘none of her other 20 pairs matched with her dress,’” Hall said. She also loved coffee, never failing to show up to school with a canteen full of it every morning. Even though her friends always joked about it, Carmen was a proud Starbucks gold member. Her favorite animal was the horse. On the day that would have been her 17th birthday, her friends gathered at a local horse ranch to release balloons adorned with messages of love in honor of Carmen. “Everyone wrote on a coffee mug with heartfelt messages ‘to our favorite coffee addict’ that we plan to give to her family,” senior Carmen Lo said. One of her favorite things to do was going to the movies with her friends. Her snack of choice was always Sour Patch Kids or some kind of gummy, according to Hall. “One thing we always did together was try to predict the whole plot [of the movie] from like the first five minutes,” Huang said. “I lost count of the amount Hall, they spent the early weeks of Carmen also developed a love for of times we predicted exactly what cliche February trying to convince Carmen’s literature and art in addition to her thing the protagonist would say, or the father to buy her tickets to see Dierks passion for science and mathematics. times we called literally every twist. Bentley in concert. She was fascinated by art museums and Honestly, I don’t remember if she ever Her love for music dates back to her took up drawing as a hobby. Anyone who predicted wrong.” middle school days. In eighth grade at sat near her in class would recognize To Carmen, the world was an exciting Westglades Middle School, she performed her notebooks, which were adorned place filled with potential adventures. as Grimsby in the school’s production of with sketches of patterns and flowers in She always wanted to experience “The Little Mermaid.” While she never addition to her meticulous notes. life to its fullest, being very involved She was quite the bookworm, routinely intended to pursue theatre in high in the community and accepting all school, she carried her love for singing reading over 100 books a year according opportunities that came her way. She and music with her. In high school, she to her parents. She was especially became fascinated by Germany and was interested in science fiction, fantasy and began singing on the choir at St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church, embracing determined to travel to the country comedy books, as well as the work of after hearing lots of stories about it from her religious ties. William Shakespeare. There, she was part of the youth group her father’s friend. She spent a year “Her depth of thought noticeably teaching herself German and planned a in which she took an active leadership inspired her classmates with fresh perspectives, launching us all into deeper, role. Rev. Canon Mark Sims lightheartedly family trip to Germany in the summer of 2017, translating and guiding her family more elaborate discussions,” AP Literature described how when Carmen came up throughout. with an idea, she would barge into his and Composition teacher Michelle Daon Carmen’s perspective on life was said. “Carmen took advantage of my open- office and tell him how he could get on etched into the walls of her bedroom, door policy and would come before school board. While Carmen’s maturity, intelligence which featured quotes such as “laugh and during lunch and personalization every day. Live every moment. Love and leadership reflected the personality to meet with me to further discuss her beyond words” and “when it rains, look analysis of literature. For me, it was a dull of a professor rather than a high for rainbows. When it’s dark, look for school student, she still found joy in day when Carmen did not show up for a stars.” She had an optimistic outlook the activities typical of teenage girls. quick discussion.” on life and looked forward to a bright She loved to shop, especially for shoes, As a very involved student in the future ahead of her. Carmen Schentrup, a owning a wide array of high heels and extracurricular organizations at MSD, dreamer, a daughter, a sister and a friend, boots. According to Hall, Carmen used she also played a critical role in the Mu will forever be in the hearts of those who shopping to cheer her up, claiming that Alpha Theta calculus team, HOSA and knew her and those she impacted. Story several honor societies. In early February, shoes “solved all of life’s issues.” by Lauren Newman; photos courtesy of April “I remember standing outside of she recently received a first place award Schentrup gov[ernment class] not long before from HOSA for memorizing the most have had a student like that — a brilliant student, a fine young lady, [who] had the world by the tail and a future ahead of her,” physics teacher Robert Rosen said. Accepted to the University of Florida’s honors program, she planned to pursue a career in medical sciences. After her great-aunt suffered from ALS, Carmen made it her goal to one day find a cure to the disease. Her passion for science was exhibited in her enrollment in challenging courses such as AP Biology and AP Physics C, as well as her role on the MSD science bowl team. “She was one of the reasons I came to practice. After all, [I] had to listen to the captain; [she was] elected through an extremely competitive game of rock paper scissors,” Huang said.
anatomical terms. However, one of her greatest passions was fostered through her presidency in the Acapella Club: music. She and senior Suzanna Barna co-founded the club as sophomores to bring together lovers of music and develop their passion. Since she was 5 years old, Carmen developed a gift for playing piano, violin and guitar. She used music as a means for escape from her hefty workload. “I remember telling her she was screwed when she didn’t know her sheet music like four days before her competition, but she still got a Superior,” Huang said. She especially loved country music and always wanted to go to concerts. According to her friend, senior Amanda
She was smart, funny, quirky, sarcastic and witty. I like her confidence in the fact that she embraced being weird and didn’t change for anyone.
In Memoriam • Carmen Schentrup 29
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e was selfless, curious, loving and brave. He was an active member of the JROTC program at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He loved to play basketball just as much as he loved to watch the Houston Rockets. He enjoyed jamming to hip-hop and had hopes of attending the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Most importantly, Peter Wang was adored by many and cared for by all. “He was rather quiet, but he was always happy and always smiled. Pete was well-liked and an entertaining joy to have in my room,” JROTC Sergeant John V. Navarra said. Peter was born on Nov. 9, 2002 in Brooklyn, New York to his father, Kong Wang, and mother, Hui Wang. He was the oldest of his two brothers, Jason and Alex Wang. Though he was born in the United States, he lived in his parents’ native country, China, for two years as a baby. Back in Florida, Peter attended Westchester Elementary in Coral Springs where he met his eventual best friend, freshman Gabriel Ammirata. Together, they grew closer as they journeyed through Sawgrass Springs Middle School and watched their favorite anime shows, “Naruto” and “Dragon Ball Z.” They both went on to continue their academic careers at MSD, but while Ammirata became involved in band, Peter joined JROTC. “We’ve known each other for such a long time, and it’s pretty cool how we ended up at the same high school. It was fun growing alongside him and his cousins,” Ammirata said. “We’d eat at his parent’s restaurant and have hot pot all the time. I loved anything Asian he fed me. Thinking about it all is like pure nostalgia.” Aside from indulging in Asian cuisine together, they often spent late nights gaming and talking to each other over Skype. Their favorite games included NBA 2K, Naruto Shippuden and League of Legends. Though he never fully got into the craze, Ammirata says that if Peter was here right now, he’d probably be playing Fortnite. “He was open to any kind of conversation. When we play, I can talk about whatever with him, from the latest ‘Flash’ episode to the type of shoes I should get. He was really kind-hearted. If you’re feeling down, he was the type of guy that would cheer you up,” Ammirata said.
30 In Memoriam • Peter Wang
Every year, Ammirata celebrated the Lunar New Year with Peter and his family. They would go to the Wang’s restaurant and engage in light-hearted banter, while stuffing their faces with sushi and dumplings. Peter would invite Ammirata to his Fujianese Association events for other new year festivities. They both especially enjoyed receiving lai see, red envelopes containing “lucky money.” “Feb. 16 was Chinese New Year. If he would’ve been able to make it one more day, it would’ve been the third year in a row celebrating it together. If he would’ve been able to make it one more day, we would’ve seen the new ‘Dragon Ball Super’ film and watch the heck out of it together,” Ammirata said. Apart from his embracement of his Chinese heritage, Peter grew up with an enduring affinity toward sports. In fourth grade, he picked up basketball and later became involved in taekwondo and swimming at the Coral Springs Aquatic Center. Peter advanced all the way to red
them to grow up happy, so we try to provide the best for them,” Hui Wang said. As a child, Peter strived to become a pilot and attend West Point. The longstanding values of courage and bravery that characterized his personality are said to parallel those taught at the university. Peter stood by these values up until his last moments when he held the door open to help his classmates escape to safety. “We teach in JROTC the values of honor, duty, respect, loyalty, selfless service and courage, but I haven’t gotten to those lessons yet. So he learned those things from home. He was a good person and a good cadet. We never know what we are going to do in a situation like that, but Peter made us all proud,” Sergeant Navarra said. His dreams and story of heroism inspired veterans and West Point graduates across the nation. As a result, Peter was posthumously admitted to the West Point class of 2025. It was a rare honor from the university, which brought both comfort and tears to his friends and family. West Point also granted him a Medal of Heroism, the highest honor for a JROTC member. “It was clear from his classmates and the other members in JROTC with him that this was the type of person he was. belt, but upon entering high school, he They weren’t surprised he would take this He also spent much of his time with was met with an all-too-familiar dilemma: family, frequently taking care of his kind of action to save people,” West Point the decision between academics and alumnus Chad Maxey said. younger brothers. The boys grew close athletics. In a time of apparent hopelessness, both as family and as best friends. They Although Peter enjoyed delivering Peter’s heroism has touched and moved would play video games late into the powerful roundhouse kicks and jabs, he evening and watch films together in the the lives of many. While the community valued his school work over participating home theater. They often bonded over suffered from the darkest of humanity, his in sports. Though his taekwondo career bravery kindled the hearts of the nation campaign mode on Halo or iPad games. ended in his final year of middle school, to action. When Jason and Alex were bored, Peter his involvement in JROTC was just getting was there to keep them company. In “Let this selfless young man be held started. up as a shining symbol of the best of addition to being their brother and best In JROTC, Peter’s talent and intellect friend, Peter served as their mentor and humanity and a beacon of hope for a carried him quickly up the ranks. Senior role model. future that will soon reside in the hands Angelyse Perez, Peter’s Bravo unit “He was kind, he was generous, he was of his generation,” writer Patrice Apodaca commander, reported that he was an said in a LA Times article. smart. Whenever I don’t get something excellent marksman and was about to be [in school], I can ask him. Then he says Peter will forever be remembered for promoted to the “A” team. ‘okay let me help you.’ He teaches me and his humor, heart, courage and valor. To “Peter was definitely passionate if I don’t get it, he teaches me again until the witty friend who was always quick about being a part of the marksman to crack jokes and make everyone laugh, I do. I believed in him. I trusted him. I team. I was surprised to hear how good [could] depend on him,” Jason Wang said. to the loving brother who was always he was,” Peter’s cousin Aaron Chen said. there to look out for his family, to the Peter’s mom remembers how Peter “I suppose it was all the video games he obedient son who revealed to his parents always listened to her. Whenever his played.” the feeling of true love, to the noble hero parents asked anything of him, he Though they were cousins, Chen said followed. Also, whenever Peter asked who put others before himself, to Peter: that he and Peter grew up together like MSD misses you, loves you and will always anything of his parents, they did it for brothers; they saw each other and spent stand beside you. Story by Richard Doan; him. time together everyday. As children, they photos courtesy of Hui Wang, Aaron Chen, “We work hard for the kids. fought furious Pokémon card battles and Everything we do is for them. We want Gabriel Ammirata and Peter Mahmood
clashed in intense PC gaming sessions. “He was the only person on my level when it came to games. He wasn’t a professional, but it wasn’t like he didn’t know what he was doing. I stopped collecting cards or playing those games because Peter played with me and there’s not really a point to it now,” Chen said. Chen spoke lovingly of Peter, reflecting on some of their perhaps not so school-appropriate memories. They grew up causing playful mischief and cracking inside jokes. “Peter was never sad, and he always made jokes. That was the essence of Peter,” Chen said. “He never got down about anything. He just wanted to make others laugh.” When Peter was not at school, he enjoyed hanging out with friends, playing basketball and watching anime. “He would watch so many animes. At one point, I remember he said ‘there are no animes for me to watch anymore,’” Peter’s little brother, Jason Wang, 11, said.
He was kind, he was generous, he was smart... I believed in him, I trusted him. I [could] depend on him.
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cott Beigel passed on from this world as a hero, but to anyone who knew the Long Island native, this came as no surprise, as he was known as a man who had lived his life by the values of heroism and selflessness. A man who loved teaching his kids as much as he loved running with them, 35-yearold Beigel was born on Oct. 22, 1982. Despite having only joined the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School staff as a geography teacher this year, he has left a lasting legacy on his students and his cross country team, not only for his quick-wit and sarcasm, but also for his huge heart. Beigel was born in Beauregard Memorial Hospital in DeRidder, Louisiana. Although he was born in the Pelican State, he didn’t spend long there. As the child of a military family, he quickly found himself hurried off to New York, and it was there he spent his early years. The reserved, thoughtful individual came into the world weighing 7 lbs, completely unaware of the immeasurable impact he would have on thousands of people throughout his life. As a child, at 7 years old, Beigel attended a sleepaway camp known as Camp Starlight, and his positive experiences there led him to find a passion for teaching. His mother, Linda Schulman, realized early on that his camp experiences would shape the person he was going to become and the career he was going to pursue. Beigel continued going back to camp summer after summer. He loved not only the adventures and the games, but also the lessons he learned there and the lessons he was able to teach others. “There came a time that we told him that if he wanted to keep going back to camp, he would have to go into the teaching profession,” Linda Schulman said. He was totally involved in the Camp Starlight experience. The camp, based in Starlight, Pennsylvania, is a place where campers and counselors spend the summers on a 385-acre region surrounded by mountains and lakes. The camp has been active for over 70 years and prides itself on its friendly campers, caring camp staff, quality camp program and beautiful facilities. “Scott Beigel not only was a hero February 14, but he was a hero every summer at Camp Starlight to countless individuals. He was one of the greatest
32 In Memoriam • Scott Beigel
mentors I’ve ever had, and I’m so grateful for how he impacted myself and everyone around him. I will never forget you Scott. Rest easy,” camper Cody James Johnson said in a Facebook post. After spending his early years in New York, Beigel continued his trend of traversing the country and moved down south to the Sunshine State in order to attend the University of Miami. While at school, he studied education, working towards becoming a teacher so he could continue to work to improve the lives of other people around him and prepare the next generation for the future. It was during his time at Camp Starlight that he met his friend and MSD AP U.S.
that he couldn’t believe I had let the whole world in on his life,” Linda Schulman said. As it was only his first year at MSD, he was extremely nervous about whether or not his students would like him, and how he would do as a teacher. His mother recalled one time while she was on the phone with her son as he was driving home and that he was worried because some students were complaining about his class. Sometimes teachers are branded as not caring about what their students think about them, but Biegel was definitely not one of them. He wanted to be friends with his students and pass onto them knowledge about life, not just knowledge of academics. Throughout his life, Beigel was a teacher, a cross-country coach, a counselor, a grandson, a son, a brother, an uncle, a nephew and a cousin. He meant so much to so many people, a fact he seemed unaware of as he went through his daily life. A very important part of Beigel’s life was his girlfriend, Gwen Gossler. They met important,” Fletcher said, “Beigel saw life at camp and had been dating for the past seven years. Beigel’s final text message to in such a unique way, a way that no one Gossler read, “Happy Valentine’s Day.” else can. He passed on his wisdom and While sitting with his girlfriend at knowledge of life to his students every home watching the news about a mass day in his discussions and conversations. Everyone who knew Scott Beigel would say shooting one day, Beigel told Gossler that if anything were to happen to him, he that he brought the light to anywhere he wanted her to tell the world who he really went.” was, and Gossler stuck to her word. Fletcher was not the only member of “Now I can tell the truth,” Gossler the cross-country team who recognized said at his funeral. “You are an amazingly and appreciated Beigel’s contribution to special person. You are my first love and the cross-country team. my soulmate.” “He was unbelievably funny, but it Beigel’s father, Michael Schulman, also was a really dry sense of humor. He knew spoke at his son’s funeral, asking that his little to nothing about running, but to son be remembered not for his heroic be honest it made the meets all the more actions in his final moments, but for the entertaining because he was able to have heroic actions taken throughout his life a unique perspective on the sport as a that defined who he was as a person. whole,” senior Nick Boyer said. “On our “I don’t want Scott’s memory to be first practice the advice he gave us was the horrific moment on that afternoon. ‘why don’t you guys run a little faster?’ Scott’s heroism was not that instant; He might not have known much about running, but when we needed someone to Scott’s heroism was his entire life,” Michael Schulman said. step up and save the team, he was always Scott Beigel’s heroism was his entire right there.” life, and he lived it until his final moments. After his passing, a flood of support His sarcasm and dry humor tried and failed from around the country and around to hide a massive heart and a love for life, the world came pouring in, ironic in his and he left this world a man unaware of mothers eyes, as he had always been a the legacy he would leave behind and the reserved man who had tried to avoid the number of lives he would touch. Story spotlight. “He was extremely humble. If he could by Lewis Mizen; photos courtesy of Linda Schulman see what is going on he would say to me “He did not know much about distance running, but he did know how to motivate us and make us feel determined to win. Especially with a sport like cross-country, it is hard to prepare someone for a race when it is in our heads, but Coach Beigel knew exactly what to say and when to say it.” The strongest teams are those in which each member is willing to go the extra mile for one another, and with the crosscountry team it was Beigel’s charisma that allowed the team to rally around one another and also push to run further and faster. “His humor and charismatic nature made each person feel special and
I don’t want Scott’s memory to be that horrific moment on that afternoon. Scott’s heroism was not that instant; Scott’s heroism was his entire life.
Government teacher Jeff Foster. Foster recalls when he got Beigel an interview for the open teaching position here at MSD. “When I heard that we had an open spot at the school, I knew he was the perfect guy for it, especially since I’d seen the way he worked with kids at the camp,” Foster said. “I was waiting by the phone while he was doing his interview, and I got a call from his interviewer afterwards who said they knew they wanted him a minute into it.” After he joined the MSD family, he almost immediately became involved in the cross-country program, even before he’d officially started teaching at the school. When he heard that the crosscountry team would be shut down if they failed to find a coach, he stepped up to the challenge, despite noticeably having zero previous experience in the sport he had just signed up to coach. Junior Alyssa Fletcher, who has been involved in the track program since her freshman year, remembered the energy he brought to the team and the enthusiasm with which he pushed them to do better. “It was his first year at Stoneman Douglas and before he even began teaching, he accepted the position as head coach for the cross-country team, saving the team and allowing us to run, compete and follow our passion,” Fletcher said.
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34 In Memoriam â&#x20AC;˘ Aaron Feis
efore Feb. 14, Aaron Feis was known to many students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School simply by his last name, Feis. Today, the security guard and assistant coach is regarded by all as a hero. Born on May 17, 1980 in New York, Feis lived 37 years. He is survived by his wife, Melissa Feis, 8-year-old daughter Arielle Feis, sister Johanna Feis, brothers Michael Feis and Raymond Feis Jr. and his parents Raymond Feis Sr. and Stephanie Feis. Family was always the most important aspect of Feis’s life. His affection and constant consideration for his family contributed to his personality and known title as a “family man.” “His daughter was his life,” football coach and security guard Elliot Bonner said. “He was a dad. He would pick her up if she didn’t feel well, or even if she looked like she didn’t feel well. That’s the kind of dad he was.” Feis developed a relationship with each and every person who spent time with him. Whether it be his colleagues, the players he coached or even students he was responsible for disciplining, he was known and admired for his selflessness, his sense of humor and his consideration for the needs and well-being of others. “I talked to Feis pretty much every day for 20 years,” Bonner said. “I talked to him more than I talked to my wife.” Although Feis valued all of his relationships with the athletes he coached, there is one situation in particular that is a testament to the true character of Aaron Feis. A former athlete of Feis’s, who chose to remain anonymous, had a difficult upbringing and home life, but there was one constant support system and friend he had, Coach Feis. “Feis didn’t have much, but he always made sure this kid was fed and out of a destructive environment,” Feis’s former colleague Justin Schuster said. “Coach Feis always stood by his side.” Feis was not only an Eagle in character with his courage and altruism, but also in his alma mater, having graduated from MSD in 1999. He moved to Parkland at 10 years old and played on MSD’s football team. In his time as a student, he played as an offensive and defensive lineman on the MSD football team, and he was coached by Bonner. Later Feis would coach alongside him for the junior varsity
football team. Bonner jokingly referred to how he remembered Feis when he was a player on the football team. “He was a funny, long red-haired aggressive kid,” Bonner said. His dedication to the school and its football team only grew stronger from the time he was a student to when he became a coach. The football program was only enriched when Feis decided to come back and help turn the football team around. “He loved football, whether he was playing football or coaching football,” friend and security guard Brian Staubly said. “He was passionate about the students, he loved the students, and he loved being here at Douglas.” The coach had an undying passion for football. In 2002, just three years following his graduation, he became the
training; he did emotional training.” As a security guard, Feis aspired to become a security specialist, according to Bonner. Security specialists oversee security in the schools and attempt “to make the individual school a safe and secure work environment for students and employees and to prevent/reduce loss of student/employee and school property by theft and vandalism,” according to Broward County Public Schools official job description. “He was passionate about the kids. He cared for all of us, no matter who you were,” varsity football player Gage Gaynor said. “He cared for the football team, and he cared for the students at MSD, even if he knew you or didn’t know you.” Even students who didn’t know Feis personally saw him around school or in the senior lot, where he greeted students
Feis was about character... He wasn’t a football coach, he was a life coach... He never looked for another job. He loved Douglas. He gave his life for Douglas. head coach for the MSD junior varsity football team. He continued coaching in this position for eight years and then became the assistant coach for both the varsity and junior varsity teams. His love for football persisted throughout his life, and he fostered this love within the MSD football players. Feis ensured that the people around him reached their full potential and did the same for his football teams. He continually encouraged the team to strive for improvement not only on the football field, but also in the game of life. “He cared more about making us better players and better people than he did about winning,” varsity football player Ajay Sasser said. Feis’s chivalrous nature carried throughout every aspect of his life. He saw the good in everyone, even those who tended to cause trouble with administration. In his security guard position, he did discipline students, but he also made an effort to ensure that they would stay out of trouble in the future. “He was very efficient, he knew the rules,” Bonner said. “He did a lot of
every morning as they pulled into their parking spots. “He was always there,” senior Andy Pedroza said. “I didn’t really speak to him, he was just there doing his job.” Aside from selflessness, one of the first traits that comes to mind when Feis’s name is heard is sarcastic. Anyone who had the pleasure of knowing Feis can attest to his unparalleled sense of humor. Bonner describes the greatest aspect of his personality as his “hidden humor.” He loved to playfully banter with everyone around him, including the football players he coached. “He made really bad jokes; he would always try to make fun of you, but he would always smile after. He would make it better by smiling,” varsity football player Will Pringle said. “He was just a really funny guy. He always had a smile on his face.” Despite his constant wisecracking, Feis cared deeply about those who were close to him. He developed unique and personal connections with each of the football players that he coached because it was important for him to know who the
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students were, and not just as athletes, but as people. MSD was not just his workplace, but his home, and the athletes were not just his team, but his kids. “He never looked for another job. He loved Douglas; he gave his life for Douglas,” Bonner said. Feis looked at the kids on the football team as the next generation of great adults and worked tirelessly to make sure they knew that they always had not just a football coach, but also a friend in Feis. “He really paid attention to each individual person,” Pringle said. “He tried to make connections with each person. He really cared about character as opposed to just football skills.” In order to preserve his extraordinary character, NFL Los Angeles Chargers player Corey Liuget created a scholarship to be granted to a graduating member of the MSD football team who displays similar values and traits to Feis. “Feis was about character... He wasn’t a football coach, he was a life coach,” Bonner said. Not only did Feis care about his football players, but he made sure to support everyone around him in any way he could. “He had a lawn service during the weekend, so I asked him for help with my lawn. I said, “if you’re not doing anything Sunday, come over and do my lawn. I’ll pay you.’ He came over, did my lawn and didn’t even take any money for it. He said, ‘hey, I’m doing it for a friend,’” Staubly said. “That was the type of guy he was... he would always put you first.” Feis’s devotion to others continued throughout his life, and that is the way he will be remembered. In honor of Feis, artist Pia Guerra from Canada created a cartoon entitled “Hero’s Welcome,” illustrating his entrance to heaven with children highlighting his valiance that he demonstrated in his life. The cartoon quickly became viral due to its emotional impact and virtuous characterization of Feis. Guerra’s depiction of Feis showed the world how he lived his life: to help others. From the time he was 16 to the time he was 37, Coach Feis was an Eagle. Although he is not physically here, Feis’s legacy as an Eagle will live on through his team and through the students of MSD. Story by Carly Novell; photos courtesy of Willis May and Sean Simpson
In Memoriam • Aaron Feis 35
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hero is defined as a person admired for achievements and noble qualities. Christopher Brent Hixon proved to be just that on Feb. 14, 2018, when his heroism and bravery in the face of danger saved the lives of the students and faculty he considered family. Chris Hixon is survived by his wife, Debbi Hixon, and his children, Jennifer, Jessica, Thomas and Corey Hixon. Hixon was born on Feb. 25, 1968 and was 49 years old. He grew up in Easton, Pennsylvania, along with his brother, Richard Hixon, and sister, Natalie Hixon. He attended Easton High School until his sophomore year and graduated from Pleasant Valley High School in Broadheadsville, Pennsylvania. In 1986, at the age of 18, Hixon joined the Navy, eventually moving into the Naval Reserves. Over the course of his experience in the military, he served in the Persian Gulf War during Operation Desert Storm and Operation Desert Shield. In 2007, he was deployed to Iraq as a U.S. Navy Reservist. Hixon retired from service in October of 2013, at the age of 44, with a decorated and distinguished record. His naval accolades include the three Navy Achievement Medals, a Good Conduct Medal, a Navy Reserve Meritorious Service Medal and a Navy Reserve Medal. “He was adventurous; we had some very exciting adventures. He was the kind of person who was always up for trying anything, even if it was outside his comfort zone,” Debbi Hixon said in an interview with People Magazine. “He was a military man who loved serving his country. He was active duty and served in the Persian Gulf, but then switched to the reserves after we had kids. He wanted to be a part of his family.” Hixon’s family proved to be as unique as he was, with his adopted daughters Jennifer and Jessica, his youngest son, Corey, and his older son Thomas, who followed in his father’s military footsteps and joined the Marine Corps in 2011. Hixon’s career as an educator began at Blanche Ely High School, where he served as the athletic director and security monitor. He then transitioned to South Broward High School, also serving as an athletic director. While working at Blanche Ely, Hixon met his friend and colleague Allen Held, who is currently the wrestling coach at Cypress Bay High School. “[I] met him in the early 1990s when he was the wrestling coach at Ely and I was at Hallandale. As my athletic director at South Broward, Chris would always find a way to get whatever we needed done,” Held said. “He would always step up when called upon for anything. As a friend he was always genuine; he was always willing to help and make sure that everyone felt comfortable in whatever we were doing.” Hixon came to Marjory Stoneman
Douglas High School in 2014 to be the head athletic director. In this role, he organized sports schedules and coordinated logistics for the multitude of sports events that take place at MSD. “You know, I’ve know Mr. Hixon for about 20 years; Chris and I go way back. He was an athletic director at Blanche Ely back when I was an athletic director at another school, so I’ve known him for a long time,” Assistant Principal Jeffrey Morford said. “Then, when I became an administrator, I brought him to my school at South Broward to become an athletic director there, and of course when I left South Broward to come [to MSD], I brought him with me here to become our athletic director, so I have a lot of confidence in him. He’s one of the guys who would give the shirt off his back for anybody.” He was admired by all for his kindness, dedication and hard work as an athletic director and as a security specialist — a
his interactions with them and their memories. His encouragement and motivating words drove junior Shane Hoffman to join the wrestling team as a freshman, exemplifying the power behind his words and the passion that he felt for the sport. “What Mr. Hixon said to be me about fighting to take a stand is why I decided to do wrestling freshman year,” Hoffman said. “He told me to never give up and use every breath in my body as fire and energy to help my team win.” Hixon’s drive didn’t stop at just that, however. During matches, he could always be found on the side of the mat boosting the morale of his athletes in order to ensure that they did their very best. “Hixon was more than just a coach to us, he’s family. He was emotional, but he always cared about us and tried to support us as best as he could despite his busy schedule as athletic director and security,” junior Steven Erched said. “I’ll always remember Hixon in [the] corner of all my matches yelling at me without freaking out because he always had faith in me that I’d pull through and win.” Hixon was accepting of everyone, allowing sophomore Sarah Ochoa to compete with the boys on the wrestling team and driving her to success through his unbridled encouragement for her. On the day of Hixon’s funeral, the MSD wrestling team competed at Coral Springs High School, determined to push through the trials that they were facing to make their coach proud. Ochoa pulled off a surprise tribute to her beloved coach, pinning a freshman from Monarch High School in just 16 seconds. “That was for Coach Hixon,” Ochoa said in an interview with ESPN. “He encouraged me, made me feel a part of the team, made me run when I didn’t want to run. All I kept thinking at the funeral was that I would never hear him say, ‘Sara, stop dancing on the mat.’ Oh God, I hope he was watching that.” In his honor, Hixon’s family has created the Chris Hixon Athletic Scholarship Fund in order to carry on his legacy of helping student athletes. The fund will be awarded to one outstanding student at the three schools Hixon worked at: Blanche Ely, South Broward and MSD. Even now, Hixon will continue to positively influence the lives of young aspiring athletes. As an athletic director, coach and faculty member, Hixon was and will always be an irreplaceable part of MSD. The impact he had on so many students will always be an unforgettable part of their lives. He leaves behind his family and his children, who will forever love and cherish his dedication to their wellbeing and success. The MSD family will always hold the contributions that Hixon made to this school dear to their hearts, and he will live on forever as a hero. Story by Nikhita Nookala and Mady Kravitz; photos courtesy of Debbi Hixon
Hixon was more than just a coach to us, he’s family. He was emotional, but he always cared about us and tried to support us.
36 In Memoriam • Chris Hixon
role that he picked up when the school was in need of additional staff to patrol campus and monitor threats. When the school needed a fill-in volleyball coach, Hixon was the first to step up. When the school needed a head wrestling coach, Hixon was first in line. “You know, the thing he cared about most were our athletes and our kids here, and he would do anything for him, and I think another thing we can say [is] that people don’t realize the hours he puts in as an athletic director, and he never complained about it, and even when we couldn’t find coaches for sports, he would coach the sports for free,” Morford said. “So, I think that kind of says a little bit about him and his character. He was a great husband, and he was a great father, and he was a great friend to me, and he’s going to be missed. We’re just glad that we were able to have him here for the four years we had him.” Hixon was an amazing role model to many of his students and athletes, and he influenced many young students at MSD and at South Broward as the head wrestling coach. He led the team to many victories and helped the students to develop skills and confidence on the mat. “At South Broward one year, we were getting ready for the state tournament, and Chris was telling our wrestlers he was going to come in the room and show them how it was done,” Held said. “He came in to practice with his wrestling gear on and wrestled with our two state champions. They got the best of him, but he wouldn’t stop wrestling and kept selling them out. It is a memory that the wrestling teams brings up and was thankful for his support.” Hixon’s support for his athletes and the students of MSD is evident in
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In Memoriam â&#x20AC;¢ Chris Hixon 37
Design by Lauren Newman; Photo by Kyra Parrow
Life is like a roller coaster Life is like a roller coaster It has some ups and downs Sometimes you can take it slow or very fast It maybe hard to breath at times But you have to push yourself and keep going Your bar is your safety It’s like your family and friends You hold on tight and you don’t let go But sometimes you might throw your hands up Because your friends and family will always be with you Just like that bar keeping you safe at all times It maybe too much for you at times: the twists, the turns, the upside downs, But you get back up You keep chugging along Eventually it comes to a stop You won’t know when or how But you will know that’ll be time to get off And start anew. Life is like a roller coaster. Alexander Schachter, 9
Sonnet to mom What do you give someone who has it all? You don’t drink wine I can’t afford taking you out to dine You rarely enjoy shopping at the mall And your shoe collection is by no means small. When it comes to makeup, well, you just borrow mine And dad already bought the entire Amazon Echo line The question of what to get you is driving me up the wall. But then I realized it is not the things The clothes, shoes, or food that you love Although chocolate certainly helps too It’s doing something small that really sings How my love for you will last when you’re up above And my life is better being with you. Carmen Schentrup, 12 *This sonnet was presented by Carmen to her third period AP Literature class on Feb. 14.
I expect most things in my life. I expect the highs, the lows and all the moments in between. I didn’t expect you. I didn’t even know someone so perfect could exist. I never knew curls as smooth and full of love as yours would ever twirl between my fingers. I never thought that I’d hold a hand that fit into my hand like a puzzle piece the way yours does. I never planned to be alive today. As a matter of fact, I planned to not be alive today. But, now I plan to live forever, as long as it’s with you. Joaquin Oliver, 12
38 In Memoriam • Poetry
Douglas strong You thought you would hurt us. You thought you could break us apart. You thought you would take us away from our home. But Douglas is Strong But Douglas has strength. But Douglas has courage. But Douglas has compassion. And so the community fights. The community will heal. And the community is left closer together. And the community will be the change. Kosha Patel, 11
You, you threw my city away You tore down the walls and opened up all the gates You, you ruined this town You burned all the bridges, and you slowly let us drown But, you’re not gonna knock us down We’ll get back up again You may have hurt us, but I promise we’ll be stronger and We’re not gonna let you win We’re putting up a fight You may have brought the dark, but together we will shine a light Woah, woah, we will be something special Woah, woah, we’re gonna shine We’re, we’re gonna stand tall Gonna raise up our voices so we’ll never ever fall We’re done, with all your little games We’re tired of hearing that we’re too young to ever make a change
17 Prayers With heads down we all clasped hands and I don’t exactly know what a prayer is but I said one I said one to the flames that could no longer occupy a corporeal wick I never knew exactly what a prayer was until that day until I found myself praying to every divine being in the universe for the safety of my home of my school praying, begging, the sky and all the stars for all of my love ones in that place to stay Just weeks ago I learned what a prayer was, and now I say 17 everyday Taryn Hibshman, 12
Cause, you’re not gonna knock us down We’ll get back up again You may have hurt us, but I promise we’ll be stronger and We’re not gonna let you in We’re putting up a fight You may have brought the dark, but together we will shine a light Woah, woah, we’re gonna shine We can hug a little tighter We can love a little more Laugh a little harder We can stand up and roar If we all come together It will be alright Stand up for one another And we’ll never give up the fight You’re not gonna knock us down We’ll get back up again You may have hurt us, but I promise we’ll be stronger and We’re not gonna let you win We’re putting up a fight You may have brought the dark, but together we will shine a light You’re not gonna knock us down We’ll get back up again You may have hurt us, but I promise we’ll be stronger and We’re not gonna let you win We’re putting up a fight You may have brought the dark, but together we will shine a light Woah, wooh, we will be something special Woah, woah, we will shine Sawyer Garrity, 11, and Andrea Pena, 10
In Memoriam • Poetry 39