Students who survived the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School vowed to make sure that their 17 classmates and teachers did not die in vain.
On Tuesday, a full St. Andrew Catholic Church in Coral Springs honored and said goodby to 17-year-old Carmen Schentrup, a senior who planned to attend the University of Florida to pursue a career in the medical field. She loved red lipstick and teal purses, and was described by friends as a determined perfectionist.
Carmen belonged to St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church, but her funeral service was moved to St. Andrew for more space.
It was there that Carmen’s Rev. Canon Mark Sims told well-wishers that activism comes after grief and mourning.
But students like Jaclyn Corin already know that.
The Stoneman Douglas High School student was one of the organizers for a trip that bused 100 students who survived the shooting and took them to Tallahassee shortly after Carmen’s funeral service.
On Wednesday, the students will break into small groups and speak directly with state lawmakers about gun control reform.
Senior Diego Pfeiffer was one of the students making the trip. In the middle of the busy Publix parking lot just across from the high school, he boarded one of the buses with a sleeping bag in hand.
“I’m hoping to change some minds when we go up there,” he said. “We’re going to be talking with important people and those people have the power and we have the voice.”
Once at the state Capitol, students will have meetings with Attorney General Pam Bondi, Senate President Joe Negron, Speaker of the House Richard Corcoran, Sen. Kevin Rader of Parkland and others.
Sen. Lauren Book is helping the Stoneman Douglas students coordinate the meetings with lawmakers.
Cathy Kuhns is a teacher at Country Hills Elementary School in Coral Springs, which is a feeder school for Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. She said she is helping chaperone the trip because of how inspiring the survivors are.
“I stand in awe of all these kids,” she said just before boarding the buses with them. “They’re so amazing. I really think they’re going to make a change.”
Parents and members of the community were at the Publix to see the kids off. Some survivors of the 2016 Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting also came to show support and travel with the students to Tallahassee.
Passion Wilson survived the Pulse Nightclub shooting. She said that the road ahead for Stoneman Douglas survivors is long, but they are supported.
“I was in the hip-hop room when it happened,” Wilson said about Pulse. “This is healing for us too, to let these kids know we've got their back. We know exactly how it feels to be in the position they’re in. PTSD is real. Don’t hide it.”