Voices of Parkland Survivors: Emma Gonzalez, Dylan Kraemer & More Students Speak Out
EMMA GONZALEZ, 18, SENIOR
"All of my emotions come in waves; there are moments I'm going to sob so hard ... and then I'm going to wipe away the tears. Every day, every hour, someone comes forward and asks, 'What can I do to help?' We're taking inspiration from each other and we're taking the grief we feel and putting it [into action]. Our motivation is each other."
DYLAN KRAEMER, 17, JUNIOR
"I just saw this gun barrel firing toward me. I saw computers get hit, the wall, the window behind me and then my two classmates. It's never going to leave us. I got a tattoo for my classmates so it can never leave me. I don't want it to because it's a serious thing; it's going to be part of my life now. My priorities are extremely different, and I think that's how it always will be."
DAVID HOGG, 17, SENIOR
"The echoes of the gunshots that day will forever ring in my head. My sister had four of her friends die. There was nothing that was going to bring them back. It has to be our generation that says, 'No, we are not going to take this anymore.'"
JENSEN CLARK, 17, JUNIOR
"I was so scared and afraid for my friends and teachers, but to see the magnitude of what came out of this was the craziest. Between our march in Tallahassee and the memorials and the vigils.... We're so much closer than before."
ERIKA KOINES, 15, FRESHMAN
"I texted my sister, 'I'm crying right now and I'm near it,' and she said, 'I love you. Are you okay? I'm hysterically crying, I'm so scared." I knew a few of the kids personally. I went to most of their memorial services. That was really hard."
MAIA HEBRON, 18, SENIOR
"Part of me feels guilty. Part of me feels thankful. It's still unreal that I'm going to have to keep living, that people in my community don't have a life anymore because of one kid, because of a gun. I'm always going to have to live with that."
EDEN HEBRON, 14, FRESHMAN
"Nobody understands how it feels to be in a room and literally feel like these are your last moments of life, and if everyone gets that sense of what it feels like, we can see more change. I don't think I'll ever be able to move on."
MADISON LEAL, 16, JUNIOR
"How many more lives will it take until action is taken? Parkland took 17 bullets straight to the heart. It is time for change. We are Parkland strong, we are Douglas strong, and we will make a difference."
JACLYN CORIN, 17, JUNIOR
"I had my AP biology class with Carmen [Schentrup, who was killed], so there's an empty seat. We agreed to leave it and not put anyone else in it because we want to keep it as a remembrance. It was too hard to talk about Carmen—she was sitting in that chair just two weeks before."
LIZZIE EATON, 16, JUNIOR
[Summed up her feelings in a poem:] "Beautiful soul after soul is lost. This cannot be our country's cost. I know this is real, but it cannot be true. I wish we could go back and make it undo. We lost 17 angels that night. Yes, 17 angels no longer in sight, but we will continue to fight and persevere and not let us be overrun with fear."
AVA SCHNEIDER, 14, FRESHMAN
"At one point I was like, 'This is the end. I'm not getting out of here.' But it wasn't. One of the people with me lost his best friend. I've kind of been making sure he's okay, that he knows there are people here for him. Change has to come from us."
EMILY BURKE, 15, FRESHMAN
[Soccer teammate Alyssa Alhadeff was killed in the massacre.] "She was shot in the hand, her heart and her head. All the people that knew Alyssa, we've all come together. We've tried to spend time bringing our memories of her. We've made shirts for her. We're trying to raise money for her family. It doesn't feel real."
JAYDEN BIER, 17, JUNIOR
"It's always on the news, but I never would've thought at my school 17 people would be gone forever. I can't imagine any parent knowing they're never going to see their child again because of this one crazy kid who just never got help."
MADDIE GAFFNEY, 17, JUNIOR
[Friend Luke Hoyer was among those killed.] "I can't even explain to you the feeling of seeing a mother you know so well that lost her baby. It's just lifeless. There's nothing left in her. Something needs to be done about this. Something needs to change. She lost her baby and she's never going to see him again."
SAM SCHNEIDER, 16, JUNIOR
"Anger is the main emotion I have right now. Just knowing that I am trying to do everything I can from my position to try to create change is giving me some closure, and knowing this never will actually happen again to any other student."
JULIA CORDOVER, 18, SENIOR
"Fourteen students had their whole lives ahead of them. They went to school on Valentine's Day, super happy, and they just didn't come home. I want people to know that we students are scared, but we're not scared to use our voices to speak up."
JOEY CORDOVER, 16, JUNIOR
"I feel emptiness because of the 17 friends that we lost. It just seems like a dream that something like this would happen to us. Our goal is to stop the sale of these assault weapons that are lethal to life. Since it happened to us, I think we can get stuff done."