Reflecting on Parkland tragedy Deerfield residents give back

Posted on 22 February 2018 by LeslieM

By Rachel Galvin

On Feb. 14, 17 lives were lost in the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Parkland. There are no words to really capture the heartbreak felt by the families and friends. Yet, our television sets are being bombarded by the graphic images captured that day, by the outpouring of grief and anger, and calls for action. We have heard the timeline of events. We have seen the disturbing social media messages from the shooter. We have seen the heroes who have died to save others. We know all this. But the question is what is being done today to stop this from happening again. Yes, there is talk of new gun regulation, talk about mental health. There are so many lessons to be learned, missed opportunities.

The incident led schools to scramble to take a look at their own security procedures.

Principal Baugh, from Deerfield Middle School, said, “We have drills a couple times a year – Code Black for a bomb threat, Code Red for a shooter or an unknown on campus. After [what happened in Parkland], we had an emergency facility meeting and reviewed procedures. We reiterated with students on the intercom… ‘Please do not open doors, make sure they are locked.’ We have students hide in the classroom during a lockdown with lights off. We had a meeting with the school resource officer Deputy Jimetta Williams that day and asked ‘What are the lessons learned?’ She felt very confident that our procedures are good.”

She added that grief counselors were made available for students and teachers and that many utilized them. They consisted of school counselors and social workers, who were set up in the media center.

Gordon Vatch experienced a lockdown at Deerfield Park Elementary recently when giving out dictionaries to 3rd graders on behalf of the Kiwanis Club.

Principal Reid said, ‘It’s a Code Red’ and took us into the cafeteria and we were in lockdown. We had many 15 to 20 of us in a closet. We were given the ok after 20 minutes. Someone had perpetrated the area. The way they did it was very professional and very quick. The kids listened and obeyed instruction,” he said.

This tragedy led the city to cancel their annual Pioneer Days activities, a controversial move, but one that Vatch said he agrees with.

I am glad they canceled,” he said. “They could have been our kids.”

Some shared his sentiments; many others shared their disappointment about the cancelation of events. But everyone felt this tragedy strongly and many have reached out to lend a helping hand.

Joan Gould said she waited three hours to give blood, something the city encouraged people to do.

I was there at 11:15 in the morning and people were already waiting. Deerfield Beach called for action. I was so proud to see one [Blood Mobile] bus after another. We all felt so helpless. What can you do? I gave blood so I could feel like I was doing something. “

Buddy Sparrow, who is known for spearheading the branding of Deerfield Beach Island (DBI), decided to lead a silent march where the parade would have been, from Pioneer Park to the beach. A few followed his lead.

We would just like the victims, families and all of Parkland to know we stand with them and that Deerfield Beach cares. They bleed — we bleed… One human family. We know it cannot assuage the incredible anguish of these families but it felt wrong to do nothing,” he said.

Deerfield Beach Elementary School (DBES) art teacher Suzanne Devine Clark created the idea of “Stones for Stoneman” and, as of press time, was rallying volunteers to paint rocks with hearts and such to be placed in their memorial garden at DBES.

Gabriele Schlicht, owner of CrossFit Deerfield Beach, offered CrossFit classes to anybody they could reach using the money to fundraise to help the Parkland community.

This was a very quick decision made on Thursday the day after the shooting and completed yesterday. We offered CrossFit classes to anybody we could reach in such a short time. We opened the doors at 5:30a.m. and offered 14 classes (hourly) to raise money. The news spread fast and we raised around $1500. (It is still coming in).

The most amazing thing is that other fitness facilities are copying our workout and using it as a way to fundraise for Parkland. This is so very heartwarming how we all come together for the same reasons,” she said.

Coastal Community Church asked member Ed Taber, of Pompano Beach, to make the crosses that were set up in the makeshift memorial for victims of the shooting in Parkland in time for the vigil that was held on Feb. 15. The church is open for anyone who needs a prayer or to help in any way they can. (

These are just a few of the members of the community that felt the need to do something in wake of this incident, but there are surely so many more. Perhaps, the thing most needed following this tragedy is just more kindness. Nerves are raw, hearts are heavy; a kind word or hug can make all the difference. The Observer offers its condolences to all those affected.

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