It’s that time of year again. Kids graduating from high school, firming up their plans for next year, and, of course, getting their yearbooks.
Sadly, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, is still recovering from the tragic shootings that took place there in February 2018 and took the lives of 17 students and teachers. As you can imagine, the incredible pain and trauma from that day still linger; the students and staff deal with it every day.
In an attempt to help its community cope with tough feelings, Stoneman Douglas High School enlisted the help of 14 therapy dogs, and this year the helpful animals got their own yearbook page.
The yearbook’s editor-in-chief, Caitlynn Tibbetts, said:
“It’s a balancing act. After the shooting we wanted that yearbook to be perfect and had to cover as much as possible. This year, we wanted to give proper representation of our school and who we are now without giving so much focus to what happened to us in the past. The therapy dogs are the one thing from last year that is permanent and positive.”
The dogs attend classes with students and hang out in the courtyard outside the cafeteria as students go to and from lunch, so the students can stop for a quick pet.
Teacher and yearbook adviser Sarah Lerner was thrilled with the addition of therapy jobs to the Stoneman Douglas High School campus. Lerner said, “There’s nothing a dog can’t fix. I’ll be teaching and in comes a dog and these big 18-year-old adults all the sudden become mushy 5-year-old kids and it’s been such a comfort for us.”
Lerner had the idea to include the 14 therapy dogs in the school’s yearbook: “We sat them up on chairs, they were smiling for the camera. It was the greatest day of my life.”
A few of the pooches even ended up going to the prom.
A great, uplifting story that was born out of a tragic day that these students and staff will never forget.