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The Aftermath

The Reporting

The Publication

‘We’re kids, but we’re also journalists’

Parkland students cover the shooting they survived and the classmates they lost

Hurricanes. Assault. Climate change. Vaping. The student journalists at the Eagle Eye, the school newspaper at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, have never shied away from chronicling fraught topics. But on Feb. 14, their Parkland, Fla., school became the news, when 14 students and three staff members were killed. Media from across the nation descended. But no one had the perspective of the reporters, editors, photographers and designers at the Eagle Eye. They had huddled in closets as a gunman stalked the hallways. They had lost classmates and teachers. There was a story, and it was theirs to tell. The Washington Post filmed the students as they put together an edition of their paper that was unlike any before.

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The students behind the stories

These are the personal stories of the student journalists and the advisor who put together the Eagle Eye, told in their own words. Some quotes have been edited for clarity, and some interviews have been condensed.


The Aftermath

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In their words

Rebecca Schneid

16, junior, co-editor in chief

I like the whole process of getting the story. Sometimes sitting down and actually writing it is my least favorite part. Even though I love writing. My favorite part is definitely going out there, and getting the piece, and then, in my mind, figuring out how I want to write the piece.

People tell me that . . . I make them feel comfortable, and I'm an easy person to talk to. I like that I'm able to do that. But sometimes it's really hard for me, because I have to compartmentalize and just be present, without dealing with my own stuff.

I went to a conference last week and I got a pin that said storyteller. I feel like that kind of represents who I am, in a way, and how I feel. I mean, I'm a journalist. And I like reporting the news. But in another way, I think that there is journalism that I really love and I identify with most . . . I like identifying and investigating stories, and being able to tell stories to the world.

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The Reporting

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In their words

Emma Dowd

17, senior, co-editor in chief

I didn't feel that I was emotionally prepared enough to be able to go out and take photos in the week following the tragedy. And that I couldn't really distance myself enough from the tragedy to be able to be a sophisticated and professional student journalist. So I kind of took a backseat on this issue, but I'm so proud of this issue. I read all those memorial pieces, I edited all of them, I did a couple layouts, but that was all I could do. I am so grateful that my staffers were able to take the weight when they knew I wasn't emotionally prepared to.

My newspaper, we're documenting history. We're the only ones who can tell the story of what happened, because we were there.

I'm so proud of all of us. We're a family. We're an amazing staff, of just amazing people, who understand each other and who get each other, and who are there for each other. That's the most important thing for me.

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The Publication

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In their words

Melissa Falkowski

Newspaper advisor

My phone kept draining the battery. So we went to the Apple store to either replace the battery or get a new phone. And while we were waiting there, I went on one of the store iPads, because I knew a bunch of stories were ready for me to read and see, the profiles of the 17.

So I started reading these stories and editing them on this iPad in the Apple store, and I'm standing in the store crying. Because the stories were so good, and they were so touching. I felt like, so proud of [my students], in that moment. Because they did such a good job. They really tried their best to do justice to each one, and to capture who they were and what they meant to people.

I just remember standing there, and like, I'm thinking to myself, people are going to think I'm an insane person. Because I'm standing in an Apple store, on an iPad, and I'm crying like a crazy person.

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Suzanna Barna

17, senior, writer and photographer

It's interesting, because for this edition, it was hard to feel like a reporter at all. Because it is your school, and these are real people. So this whole idea of staying objective, in this case, was kind of like an arbitrary word. Because you can only be so objective when writing a memorial piece, if that makes sense.

As much as we weren't trying to put any type of biases in there, we were speaking emotionally, we were writing emotionally. Because that's what the memorial piece required. It wasn't something that I felt like I had to tone down the way that I was writing.

I thought that the emotional aspect of how I was thinking about the situation should be reflected in the work that I was doing for the memorial piece, because you want the reader to feel who they were, and how their presence will be missed.

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Nikhita Nookala

17, senior, copy editor and writer

Talking to the friends and the families of the victims, and things like that, you can kind of tell when they don't want to talk to you, or if it's too soon. When we first started doing the memorial issue, that was my main concern, that it was way too soon.

We started a couple weeks after, when we first got back to school. Just, sensitivity was hard. Because I don't think I've ever had to do something like that before. A lot of other people on the staff obviously haven't done something like that before. It was a new experience.

We just tread really carefully. If a family was reluctant to talk, we didn't push, we just asked. Because we didn't want to exclude them from the conversation, obviously, but we just want to ask if they're interested. And if they're not, we don't want to make them uncomfortable.

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Lewis Mizen

17, senior, writer

Last year, I was working in the TV production class. But I wasn't very good at the technical aspects of it so I would do all of the writing. I try to think I'm a good writer, so I figured my powers would be better served if I was in newspaper.

I've just always liked writing. It's always been one of my strong suits. And English has usually been one of my best classes.

I guess it's kind of calming to me. And looking back at the end, when you look [at] how much you've written, it's quite satisfying. It's nice to go back over and see your thoughts on paper, and what you created, and what you were thinking at that time.

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Christy Ma

18, senior, editor and writer

I'm a very studious person. I'm determined. School has always been my top priority. I play tennis. I play piano. I like to go on adventures, I like traveling a lot. I'm open to trying new things. I guess that could describe me, too. I want to become a nurse practitioner. I had an uncle who suffered from ALS. He passed away in 2013. It made me want to go into the field of medicine.

As I'm interviewing people, I feel like I get very attached to the people I talk to. I think I have a lot of empathy. Whenever I interview people, I love just chatting with them, even off the record. I just like getting to know who they are.

I think this issue is probably the hardest, because I had to actually go out and talk to family members of the victims. I started crying as soon as I met some of them. I mean, it was really nice meeting them. I wish I could have met them under different circumstances.

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Page by page

Stoneman Douglas student journalists spent the two months after the shooting interviewing friends and family of the victims to produce a special memorial issue.

Vol. 3, Number 3

The Eagle Eye

Read the tributes Eagle Eye reporters wrote about the 17 who were killed on Feb. 14.

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In memoriam

Meadow Pollack

Story by Nikhita Nookala

Meadow 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.”

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In memoriam

Joaquin Oliver

Story by Rebecca Schneid and Lewis Mizen

Whether 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.

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