I am a mother. I am a Milton resident. I am a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School alumni. You have probably never heard of this school before this week.

I graduated from MSD in 1994, only a few years after it opened. We were the first class to graduate after attending all four years. We all felt a special connection because of that. Today, I live in a community that I love – and one that reminds me so much of the one I grew up in. Parkland, like Milton, was a place that prided itself on its rural roots and “park-like” atmosphere, yet its location provided easy access to big-city conveniences. Horses and horse farms were not uncommon. 

Like Milton, many families were middle and upper class. Academics and sports were important. Most of my classmates went on to attend college and compete in sports. Parkland was even named Florida’s safest city.

Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo graduated from MSD as well, although he attended many years after I was there. It is a high achieving school and community – like the one we live in now.

I am telling you all this so that you realize this kind of school violence can easily happen anywhere, even here in Milton. We are not immune. We should all feel an obligation to keep our kids safe. Change has to come. We can wait no longer.

This shooting will permanently leave a stain on the school and community I love, the place that gave me roots and prepared me for life. I don’t think it’s a coincidence I ended up living in Milton and chose this city as the place to raise my family. If you believe this can’t happen here, you are wrong.

—Noelle Pedraza, Milton

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