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At The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Graduation There Were Moments Of Inspiration, Protest & Hope For The Future


High school graduation is usually a time for celebration and excitement as young adults get ready to start new chapters of their lives. But the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas are still feeling the grief and anger over the loss of their friends and teachers in the February shooting that killed 17 people and inspired numerous protest events.

The seniors of MSD graduated this past weekend and it was an emotional day for many reasons, full of moments that once again prove that young people have some of the most powerful voices and are not content to just sit back and watch as gun violence continues to go unchecked. Here are just some of the most moving moments from the ceremony: 

Honoring those they've lost.

MSD set up four empty chairs among the graduating seniors to honor the four seniors killed in the shooting: Joaquin Oliver, Nicholas Dworet, Carmen Schentrup and Meadow Pollack. All four students were awarded posthumous degrees to be accepted by family or friends, and all 17 people who died were honored during the ceremony. 

The parents of Joaquin Oliver were present during the ceremony to accept his degree, Oliver's mother wearing a bright yellow shirt with bolded letters that read "This should be my son." 

Students also found ways to honor their fallen friends, including decorating their graduation caps with photographs and messages of the four seniors.

Silent forms of protest.

Many members of the school community wore the color orange, the color that represents the fight for stricter gun control, as a way to make silent statements about political inaction against gun violence. Students and teachers alike wore orange makeup on their faces or decorated their caps with orange, others also wore MSD Strong sashes. 


My little brother isn't so little anymore #breakfastclub #mamahemadeit

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Senior David Hogg, one of the leaders and most outspoken members of the Never Again movement, wore an orange cap with a price tag for $1.05 attached.

According to Never Again, this represents how much each Florida student is worth to Republican Senator Marco Rubio based on the money he received from the NRA.

This wasn't Hogg's only statement of the day. He took to twitter to thank one of his teachers for teaching him what he considers to be a truly useful piece of information: "Thanks @mrjefffostermsd (My AP Gove teacher) for teaching me what a discharge petition is earlier this year," including a photo of himself with the teacher.

If you don't know, a discharge petition is something the minority party in the House can use to try to force a vote on a bill, perhaps on something like gun reform.

Jimmy Fallon surprises the graduates.

"The Tonight Show" host made a surprise appearance at the graduation, addressing a speech to the graduating seniors, adding a little bit of humor to the emotional day. 

"Today you're graduating from high school. You should feel incredibly proud of yourselves," Fallon said. "That doesn't mean you should rest on your laurels--or your yannys. Some of you will grow up to hear yanny, some of you will grow up to hear laurel, but the most important thing for you to know is that neither of these things will matter by the end of the summer."

"Here's what will matter: you, the class of 2018, will have graduated. And you won't be classmates anymore," he said. "You'll be adults who Facebook search each other at two in the morning for the next ten years."

"The first thing is this: when something feels hard, remember that it gets better. Choose to move forward. Don't let anything stop you." He then mentioned that he met some graduating students at the March for Our Lives earlier this year. "Thank you for your courage and your bravery." 

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