The "MSD Strong" Sashes Parkland Seniors Wore At Graduation Have A Kind Story Behind Them
During their graduation ceremony in Florida on Sunday, graduating seniors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School kept the memory of their classmates with them. The Parkland students wore sashes over their gowns, donated especially for the occasion, that read "MSD Strong".
The sashes were donated by Herff Jones, an Indiana-based company that makes graduation memorabilia like rings, honor cords, and graduation caps, according to CNN. Chuck Puleri, the Herff Jones representative for Broward County, said they don't want to make money on the tragedy. "Nothing will ever be sold," Puleri told CNN. "If there's any pins left over or anything like that I'll donate them, but I don't want to have anything sold related to this tragedy."
WISH-TV, an Indianapolis-based television station, said the company also donated lapel pins for all graduating seniors in Broward County. The pins also say "MSD Strong," according to the station. This is the first time the company is donating such items.
The graduation for Marjory Stoneman Douglas was at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, but details of the private ceremony were not widely publicized, as the school has been at the center of media stories since the February shooting.
In addition to the sashes and pins, students took the tradition of decorating graduate caps as an opportunity for activism. David Hogg, who made headlines for boycotts against Laura Ingraham's Fox News show and co-organizing die-ins at Publix in protest of donations to pro-NRA candidates, wore a graduation cap covered in orange, the color for gun control activists.
Hogg's cap had a price tag attached, reading "$1.05." That is the price per Sunshine State student that the National Rifle Association donated to the campaign of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. There was also a small logo for March for Our Lives, the organization founded in the wake of the Parkland shooting. Next to the logo were the words: "Politicians like Marco Rubio receive millions from the NRA. Don't put a price on us."
Other students graduation caps said "We Will Fight For You" and "#MSDStrong," the hashtag that sprang up in support of the school after the shooting. Sara Imam, another graduate, decorated her cap with 17 glittery dots in maroon and silver in memory of the 17 students and staff who died. "Maroon and silver, for I will forever be an eagle," she wrote.
Jeff Foster, a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High teacher who helped organized the graduation ceremony, told CNN that the ceremony will be a sad but uplifting end to the school year. "It's going to be sad," Foster told the news network. "We're obviously going to look back and honor the kids that perished, but then we're going to try to end it on an upbeat [ending] by bringing someone in that's hopefully going to lift the spirits."
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School also awarded posthumous diplomas to the four seniors killed in February. Nicholas Dworet, Joaquin Oliver, Meadow Pollack, and Carmen Schentrup were scheduled to graduate at the Sunday ceremony, according to ABC News.
Pollack's parents attended the senior prom in May, but told the Florida Sun-Sentinel that they will not attend graduation. Schentrup's parents will not attend, either, the newspaper reported.
Manuel Oliver, Joaquin's father, told attendees at a rally for gun control in Miami on Saturday that his family would be attending the ceremony in honor of him.
"So tomorrow is a very special day for us," Oliver told the crowd, according to the Miami Herald. "We're gonna show up tomorrow to graduation, and we're gonna raise our voice ... and they're gonna know we are with Joaquin and with every other victim of gun violence."