South Florida

It was the scene of unspeakable violence. Hours before, it was just another high school

The scene outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday.
The scene outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday. Daniel Varela/Miami Herald

Marjory Stoneman Douglas would be mortified to hear about the horrific shooting on Wednesday at the Parkland high school named in her honor. At least 17 people were slaughtered, and expelled student Nikolas Cruz, the suspect, was in police custody.

Douglas, a former Miami Herald writer and environmentalist, was known for trying to save the Everglades, among other causes. She died in 1998 at the age of 108; her remains were scattered over a portion of Everglades National Park that bears her name.

The Northwest Broward school opened in 1990, as part of the Broward County Public School district. It’s the only public high school in Parkland and serves students grades 9 through 12.

Its motto: “Be positive. Be passionate. Be proud to be an eagle.” The Eagles are the much lauded marching band. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Eagle Regiment received first place at the Florida Marching Band Championship, or FMBC, last November.

According to recent school analytics site, the school has 2,972 students with a student-teacher ratio of 23 to 1. As per state test scores, 66 percent of students are at least proficient in math and 72 percent in reading.

Google reviews were mostly positive about the educational facility.

Former student Rachel Lehrman said: “Overall, a great school. There are lots of clubs and the sports are good. Many higher level classes are offered. My teachers were kind and knowledgeable. No, it wasn’t perfect. No high school is. Students came from wealth and acted entitled. There was sex and drugs and everything else that goes on in a high school. But I felt safe walking the halls and made great friends, all you have to do is find your group and then the kids that you don’t like fade into the background.”

Notable alumni include local journalist Dave Aizer, “Sharknado” actress Cassie Scerbo and MLB player Mike Caruso.

Principal Ty Thompson has been at the job for nine years.

“My team is committed to implementing my vision for Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School by: maintaining a safe, secure, and engaging environment where students are encouraged to think critically and communicate and collaborate effectively ensuring they are prepared for life after high school,” he wrote earlier on the website.

Thompson’s last update on the site was a notice regarding safeguarding yourself against the flu as well as planned activities for Black History Month. That was Friday.

On Wednesday morning, he tweeted a Happy Valentine’s Day to all.

The school will be closed Thursday and Friday.