Assistant Principal Denise Reed stood at the entrance to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s campus in Parkland on Friday and welcomed teachers and staff back for the first time since a gunman killed 17 and wounded 15 on Valentine’s Day came back to a wholly different campus.
“It’s great to see your smiling faces,” she said, leaning into the driver’s window of an arriving staffer.
Teachers maneuvered their vehicles through a heavy police presence, orange cones blocking off parts of the road and a swarm of TV trucks and cameras.
“Good morning! Love you guys,” Reed told a car full of teachers.
“Glad to see you, honey,” she told a teacher driving in.
The schools flags are at half staff, and the parking lot is still full of bicycles left behind in a panic last week as students fled on foot.
Two golden retrievers wearing blue service vests could be seen entering the building, likely therapy dogs for the teachers.
Members of the community occasionally stopped by to drop fresh flowers or offer a prayer at the memorial that has formed at the campus.
Nicole Henry, a 33-year-old recent widow who lives in the area, said she took her three toddlers to drop off a bouquet of purple flowers.
“I know the past six months we’ve been uplifted by prayer,” she said. “So we wanted to come pray for them.”
The chain-link fence surrounding their campus was woven with flowers, balloons, stuffed animals and posters with messages ranging from mournful to inspirational.
New signs, one listing the names of the victims under the date of the massacre and a heading that read “We Will Never Forget” and another with the school’s logo and the phrase “We Shall Overcome,” have appeared on the fence around the faculty and staff parking lot.
The entrance to the parking lot was guarded by law enforcement officers who checked teacher IDs before allowing them in for what is scheduled as a planning day.
Students are invited back to campus during a three-hour open house on Sunday afternoon. Classes resume Wednesday with an abbreviated schedule for students through the end of next week.
© 2018 Miami Herald
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.