ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Inside the Student Union at the University of Central Florida, students gathered for a remembrance ceremony marking 4 years after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting which left 17 students killed.
Many of those at UCF were high schoolers in Parkland that day, including UCF Freshman Zachary Landes, who attended a private school not far away from Marjory Stoneman.
“It definitely impacted how my high school life was,” Landes said. “I never felt unsafe until I realized how lucky I was and how unlucky others were.”
He purposely pulled a card to read which remembered Alyssa Aldaheff, one of the 17 killed.
“We were both freshmen, both Jewish student-athletes and she can’t play anymore,” Landes said. “Coincidentally, my cleats were the same color and I wrote her name on my cleats and in a sense played for her.”
Julia Hirsch, 23, was a sophomore at UCF when the shooting took place, but her next-door neighbor whom she was raised with was 14-year-old Alex Schacter.
“He was my neighbor; I spent my childhood growing up next to him and our families were close. What he symbolized was a loving, kind, happy, optimistic, amazing kid, and it’s not fair,” Hirsch said. I’m so honored to be able to read his card, it’s hard to come to this. It’s a lot of emotion to actually be present for even a service like this, where you have to face the reality of what happened.”
The event was hosted by the UCF Chapter of March for Our Lives, led by student Olivia Solomon.
“They were our age when this happened, I was 15 when it happened, I went to camp with one of the victims and it was a lot of for us to go through,” Solomon said at the event. “A lot of people had loved ones they lost that day, so I wanted to make a space to come together and feel part of the community and the people that we lost that day and humanize them because I think a lot of them have become statistics in politics and government.”
UCF officials were also working to make sure the fountain at UCF will be lit up red Monday night in honor of the victims. Red was one of the high school colors at Marjory Stoneman Douglas.