DUNCANVILLE, Texas - Some Duncanville middle schoolers released 17 balloons in honor of each Parkland school shooting victim on the anniversary of the shooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High.
The idea came from two 8th grade students at Reed Middle School, who say even though they don’t personally know anyone at Parkland, they still feel a connection to what happened.
Evelyn Gomez knows some small detail about every student killed in Parkland, Florida in 2018.
The 14-year-old student and her friend, Bri Banks, feel a connection because they are about the same age as some of the victims.
"I wanted to know why. I had so many questions I wanted the answers to. I started searching it up," Gomez said. "My main questions were: Who were the victims? Who were their families?"
"It was the fact that it was on Valentine's Day, because Valentine's Day is all about love and stuff. I know those people at that school wanted to go to school and come back home to their families," Banks added.
As the anniversary approached, Gomez and Banks brought an idea to their principal.
They didn't want to let the day go unnoticed, but to remember the 17 lives lost.
"It’s not fair that people just think about it as just another shooting," Gomez said.
"We tend to think, 'Oh, it doesn’t bother them.' And so it made me reflect on how can we as a school, as a campus, as a community, how can we keep the lines of communication open so our students feel comfortable coming to talk to us about ideas they think about each day?" said Bryan Byrd, principal of Reed Middle School.
Gomez and Banks had the idea to writie each of the 17 victims' names on a balloon and release them together around the same time the shooting started.
They wanted this to send a message of unity.
"I don’t want people to be scared anymore," Gomez said. "I just want this world to be safe now and we don’t have to worry if we’re going to be the next ones."
The students say they’re hoping to do something similar to pay tribute to the victims of the shooting at Santa Fe High School in southeast Texas.
The anniversary of that shooting is May 18.