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Naples Students Host Vigil To Honor Victims of Parkland Shooting

At the Naples Pier on Thursday night, a student group organized a vigil to mark the somber first anniversary of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. 

As the sun began to set over the Naples Pier, about a dozen people gathered under a Students Demand Action banner.

Michaela O’Brien was a sophomore at Naples High School when the Stoneman Douglas shooting happened. She immersed herself in advocacy immediately after and co-founded the Students Demand Action Collier chapter.

O'Brien said she wanted to have the vigil at the pier.

"We decided to have it here because it is so serene," O'Brien said. "And, this day is not supposed to be political; we’re not here to spark debates. We are simply here to remember the 17 lives that were lost on Feb. 14, 2018.”

O'Brien organized the vigil with the help of the SDA Collier co-founder, 16-year old Zac Vega.

Credit Andrea Perdomo / WGCU
Students Demand Action Collier Chapter co-founder Zac Vega holds a candle during a vigil honoring the lives lost as a result of the Parkland school shooting last year.

“The anniversary is kinda hard; it’s a little emotional," Vega said. "But, instead of moping, I want to come out here and be positive and push for change and bring people together, so that is why I am here.”

Students Demand Action is a part of Everytown for Gun Safety, a national movement to end gun violence in America.

After a moment of silence, Michaela asked if anyone would like to share some words.

As Tina Ottman spoke, the flowers she held in her hands trembled.  She was a teacher at Stoneman Douglas from 1991 to 1996.

“I can't do this day; I just can’t," Ottman said. "Thank you for coming. It helps me that we did this, because today is a bad day.”

Flowers were handed out, and as the sun sank below the horizon, the people who came to the pier for the vigil threw their flowers into the surf and embrace.

Andrea Perdomo is a reporter for WGCU News. She started her career in public radio as an intern for the Miami-based NPR station, WLRN. Andrea graduated from Florida International University, where she was a contributing writer for the student-run newspaper, The Panther Press, and was also a member of the university's Society of Professional Journalists chapter.
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