PCLI president interviews Parkland survivors at Stony Brook’s Greene Institute

As part of Herald Community Newspapers’ ongoing series, Safety and the Second, Press Club of Long Island President Scott Brinton, who is the Heralds’ executive editor, recently interviewed Taylor Yon and Zoe Gordon, two survivors of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14. The two came to Long Island to take part in Stony Brook University’s Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists, from July 15-21. The Press Club sponsored Taylor and Zoe’s participation in the Greene Institute. 

Inside the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting

By Scott Brinton

Part seven in an ongoing series.

Sixteen-year-old Taylor Yon found comfort in Pine Trails Park, virtually in the center of Parkland, Fla. There, she and her friends wandered its sidewalks, past its familiar playgrounds, ball fields and band shell, and lit candles for the dead.

Afterward, they sat on towels on the ground and talked for hours, struggling to put into words, to understand, the massacre perpetrated by a one-time student of their school, whom the Herald is not identifying.

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Taylor Yon, 16, top, survived the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14. She and fellow survivor Zoe Gordon, 15, came to Stony Brook University recently for the Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists. Photo by Scott Brinton/Herald

At 2:21 p.m. on Feb. 14, the 19-year-old alleged killer entered Building 12 of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and started firing an AR-15 indiscriminately. He had pulled a fire alarm to draw students out of their classrooms.

Valentine’s Day is widely celebrated at the school, said 15-year-old Zoe Gordon, who was a sophomore. Students gave one another teddy bears and flowers. Zoe and her friends had a little party at their lunch table with cookies and chips, she said.

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Zoe Gordon participating in the Greene Institute. Photo by Scott Brinton/Herald

One period later, the shooting erupted.

The many teddy bears, bouquets of flowers and white crosses left at Pine Trails after the attack gave Taylor, then a junior, a sense of peace, she said. “For a good two weeks after the shooting, I went there every day,” she said. “It just made us feel in touch with each other.”

Fourteen students and three teachers died in the shooting, igniting a wave of anger and fear across the country, with millions of students and adults taking part in gun-control rallies in the following weeks and months.

Taylor and Zoe, both members of Stoneman Douglas’s student newspaper, The Eagle Eye, came to Long Island recently for the weeklong Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists at Stony Brook UniversityThe Press Club of Long Island sponsored their participation in the program, which was attended this year by roughly two dozen students from across the Island. The Herald interviewed Taylor and Zoe on July 20, as Stony Brook’s program was winding down and the two were hurrying to meet story deadlines.

To read the remainder of Brinton’s story, click here.

Brinton also wrote a column for the Herald about his experience interviewing Taylor and Zoe, “These Stoneman Douglas survivors really got to me.” Read it here.

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