Students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School began their first day of class since the school shooting there with 17 seconds of silence — one for every victim killed on Feb. 14. 

The Parkland, Fla., school reopened on Wednesday after a gunman, allegedly a former student, stormed campus, killing 17 students and teachers. 


The facility on Wednesday was surrounded by a massive police force, with officers standing shoulder to shoulder as students walked inside. 

A local police union asked all off-duty law enforcement officers to come as a show of support, ABC News reported. 

Flowers and memorials covered the exteriors. 

Inside, students were greeted by grief counselors and comfort dogs, as well as solemn reminders of the tragedy, such as flowers on the empty desks once held by victims. 

The half-day was meant to focus on “emotional readiness and comfort, not curriculum,” Principal Ty Thompson tweeted. 

Students took to social media to express concern and anxiety about returning to school for the first time since the shooting on Valentine's Day. 

“I’m scared anytime I leave my house, but I know we have to do this for them,” student Ashley Paseltiner wrote.  

But many said they were glad to be back. 

Survivors have rallied to become outspoken advocates for gun control in the wake of the massacre, creating the #NeverAgain movement that will lead a national March For Our Lives march in Washington, D.C., next month. They have appeared in a CNN town hall, organized marches to the state capitol in Tallahassee and are taking on the National Rifle Association (NRA) over its pro-gun policies. 

One student, Emma Gonzalez, now has more Twitter followers that the NRA or its spokeswoman, Dana Loesch.