The MSD Week of Service and Love took place from Feb. 8 to the 14 to honor the 17 lives lost and those affected by the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSD) on Feb. 14, 2018. The event encouraged students to engage in several service projects. Chair of the Student Government Association’s (SGA) project and sophomore Sofia Lisman said the event took the pain felt from this tragedy and turned it into a call for action and awareness by encouraging students to volunteer by donating supplies to local organizations. She said the community that came to assist in such a meaningful event was overwhelming for her as they were able to raise 1,300 dog toys for the Humane Society, 600 diaper packs for the Broward Outreach Centers and 600 toiletries kits to Children Helping Children.

“The amount of support and donations that was received was incredible and we never expected this event to become as big as it did,” Lisman said. “We are extremely grateful for everyone who donated and it really warmed our hearts to see so many people come to donate to our local organizations and honor the 17, we couldn’t have expected a better turnout.”

SGA adviser Danielle Nascimento said she is happy the event took place despite the difficulties of organizing an event virtually. She said it was important for her to aid in the project in any way she could as the events on Feb. 14 made an impact on her, and she was filled with resolve to act in resilience. 

“I feel honored to be a part of this service week, as a Parkland resident myself, this cause is physically and figuratively close to home and something I find extremely important,” Nascimento said. “It’s important to always try to rise above obstacles; the tragedy at MSD affected us all in so many ways and it’s important to find opportunities that are safe but still honor those individuals even through these difficult times.”

SGA additionally partnered up with the Weston chapter of March For Our Lives to create social media blasts that spread across the Bay and Western High school to commemorate the lives lost. Lisman said that working with the local activism group was integral in doing justice to the lives lost three years ago.

“We believe that teaming with March For Our Lives in Weston helped honor and show the importance of remembering the tragedy that took place in MSD. It is important to raise awareness to make sure that it never happens again,” Lisman said.

Communications Director and junior Andre Chelle said he was pleased to see the Bay willing to work with March For Our Lives Weston. He said this partnership exemplified how this isn’t a partisan issue to him and that he is grateful to have the support of the community in endeavors to help honor the 17 lives lost.

“I think it is great to see Cypress get involved and honor MSD with the service week as it shows our support and how we can all come together in remembrance of the tragedy,” Chelle said. “Despite many schools typically being wary of taking a stance, this willingness to speak out is impactful and shows that this isn’t a divisive issue and is necessary to prevent a tragedy like this from occurring again.”

Lisman said it was vital that the Bay took time to engage in service work to help create hope from the somber event, and that the component of school being online was a worrisome obstacle SGA had to overcome. However, Lisman said she was able to easily circumvent the issue with the help of her committee that networked to ensure students knew to take part in the supply drive taking place on virtual platforms like Instagram and Canvas. 

“Our main obstacle was finding a way for the students of Cypress Bay to spread service and love to commemorate MSD in a virtual setting, but the event and the marketing my committee and Sheff created was a great way to solve this obstacle and help some of Broward’s local organizations,” Lisman said. “There is no way I could have done it without my committee members Gaby Tula, Jessica Briceno, Nicolas Gitterle, Sarah Martelly, our SGA volunteers and our amazing teacher Mrs. Nascimento.”

Nascimento said in addition to volunteering events, the Bay took the time to stand in solidarity with MSD by encouraging students and staff to use a Cypress Bay Heart MSD Teams Background and holding a moment of reflection at 10:17 a.m. on Feb. 14. She said they also had a video from the Mind Body Ambassadors, a club that focuses on mental health, where the art of belly breathing as a form of stress relief and self-care was taught. She said being able to have these components integrated on the three-year anniversary by having the staff and students participate was heartwarming.

“I think it’s awesome that so many people came together to support,” Nascimento said. “I think any time our student body and staff can unite for a cause or occasion it’s just amazing.”

Chelle said he will continue honoring MSD to help create change at the ground-level. He said that this is vital to help more unity to move forward as a community.

“It is super important that we don’t forget them and we continue to honor them because it is important to bring forth action,” Chelle said. “Going forward, we can continue to honor MSD by continuing the Week of Service and Love, showing our love and support and making sure we never forget what happened at Parkland to grow stronger together.”