Parkland Student Survivors Brace For 1st Anniversary Of School Shooting Since the shooting, young Parkland survivors have emerged as the driving force in calling for stricter gun laws in the U.S., through a series of marches, school walkouts and voter registration drives.
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Parkland Student Survivors Brace For 1st Anniversary Of School Shooting

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Parkland Student Survivors Brace For 1st Anniversary Of School Shooting

Parkland Student Survivors Brace For 1st Anniversary Of School Shooting

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Well, for many survivors of the Stoneman Douglas shooting, the past year has been filled with a range of emotions. Student Jaclyn Corin is still trying to find balance in her life. As class president, she's responsible for planning senior prom. As a co-founder for March For Our Lives, she is also busy trying to build a gun violence prevention movement led by young activists.

NPR's Brakkton Booker reports.

BRAKKTON BOOKER, BYLINE: At just over 5 feet tall, Jaclyn Corin is petite. But she commands attention, whether she's posing for photos...

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UNIDENTIFIED PHOTOGRAPHER: Turn your chin a little more to your left. There you go.

BOOKER: ...Or on stage in front of thousands. Here she is just five weeks after the shootings, speaking in Washington, D.C., at the March For Our Lives rally.

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JACLYN CORIN: Our elected officials have seen American after American drop from a bullet. And instead of waking up to protect us, they have been hitting the snooze button. But we're here to shake them awake.

BOOKER: Eleven months later, that work continues. Corin invites me to the relatively new March For Our Lives headquarters in South Florida. She reveals some of the dangers that she and her young activist friends sometimes face when fighting for stricter gun laws.

CORIN: Our first office actually - we had to vacate because, like, people found out our location and, like, threatened us, which was not fun. But now we're here.

BOOKER: Despite that threat, 18-year-old Corin seems calm and in control, whether she's running logistics on how to bus 100 Parkland survivors seven hours to Tallahassee to lobby state lawmakers or typical high school things.

CORIN: I feel like Hannah Montana sometimes because it's...

(LAUGHTER)

CORIN: I'm not kidding.

BOOKER: That reference gets a hearty laugh from classmates and activists, Sarah Chadwick and Alex Wind. Hannah Montana was the Disney character who was a pop star by night and an ordinary high schooler by day, named Miley. There are parallels for Corin. She's constantly on her phone, firing off emails - even while we talk - as outreach director for March For Our Lives. She is also class president. One of her duties - finalizing details for senior prom.

CORIN: It's kind of a double life in that you have to manage your normal high school self and also be this public figure activist. So yeah, I mean, we're ordering a bunch of decorations. We're touring the space next month.

BOOKER: She says it's necessary to focus on normal high school activities. It's hard sometimes, though, still being a student at a place where so much pain, so much grief and so much loss hover over school life.

CORIN: A lot of people talk about the shooting like it's a timestamp - before and after the shooting - your life before and your life after. It's very hard to have a normal high school experience while we still go to Stoneman Douglas. I mean, that's just what the reality is.

BOOKER: Perhaps adding to this burden for Corin, she had spent time with the alleged gunman.

One thing I also found out. You knew or you tutored...

CORIN: I don't want to talk about it.

BOOKER: OK.

CORIN: I used to talk about it, but now I don't want to. Yeah.

BOOKER: Sarah Chadwick, a fellow activist, quickly changes the subject and shares what it's like to have to frequently pass the building where the rampage took place.

SARAH CHADWICK: I mean, as for school and the fact that the 1200 building still is there, it's actually incredibly difficult having to walk by it every single day. It takes a toll on your emotional state, and it's not even a place that we could avoid.

BOOKER: Alex Wind adds it's a feeling only those who were there that day can understand.

ALEX WIND: And it doesn't matter whether it's February 14 or it's November 6 or it's whatever day because that feeling is still there. It's every day.

BOOKER: The fact that the shootings happened on February 14, Valentine's Day, is especially difficult, Corin says.

CORIN: When I go to the grocery store and I see a bunch of flowers and chocolates and cards, it's just - no. We're never going to be able to celebrate Valentine's Day again in our lives. That's not a holiday in my book anymore. And just the constant reminder that everyone else is going to be happy and celebratory that day makes it even worse.

BOOKER: Corin says, starting tomorrow and going through the weekend, the national March For Our Lives social media platforms will go dark - no hashtags, no calls to action, just a time to reflect and to grieve. But Corin says next week, it's back to work.

CORIN: We would do this every single day for the rest of our lives because there are people that can't because their voices were silenced.

BOOKER: She adds she and other activists have a moral obligation to keep fighting, so other students won't have to go through what they did a year ago.

Brakkton Booker, NPR News.

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