Parkland survivors visit Lake Eola to encourage activism

Local parents also turn to Parkland parent to share vision on school change

By Adrianna Iwasinski - Investigative Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - Classmates, supporters and survivors of the Parkland school shooting made Lake Eola Park their latest stop on a bus stop tour.

Their mission? To speak out about school safety, gun reform and signing up young people to vote in November.

They are traveling around the state to get their message heard.

Meanwhile, state educators and decision-makers are doing what they can to meet new safety deadlines set by the state before school starts up again.

Some local parents are also doing what they can this summer to try to influence school safety measures in their districts.

One of those parents is Stacie Archer.

"It takes parents, it takes parents getting involved," Archer said.

In June, Archer helped organize a talk and demonstration at the Foundation Academy in Winter Garden. It featured Adam Pollack, a father turned activist whose daughter was one of the 17 killed in the Parkland school shooting.

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Pollack helped push through the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, and says local activism is key.

"And I think any school district or school board should take advantage of that money in that bill," Pollack said as he spoke to the group via Skype. "And get the right people trained at these schools."

Pollack says he is a big advocate of Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd and his Guardian Program, and feels metal detectors should also be placed in schools.

Archer says she is just trying to find affordable, long-lasting solutions that can be put in her kids' schools immediately.

"What is it we can do in that classroom that a teacher can use to protect her 20 to 30 students?" Archer said.

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Bullet-resistant glass was also discussed at the June gathering and it was put to the test for all to see.

"There's a lot of things we'd rather be doing with our specialty glass products, but there's been a ton of interest in the state of Florida since that shooting," Jeff Besse, the co-owner of School Guard Glass, said.

Parents and students were on hand for the demonstration. So was the chief of Orange County Public Schools Campus Police Department. He could not comment on whether what was being proposed could be used in Orange County schools in the future.

But many want something done to prevent another Parkland.

"Every school shooter, there's a mental health issue. It's not like it was a surprise," said Eric Schwalbach, a former teacher who is now running for the Orange County School Board.

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He too wanted to see and hear the different options being discussed for hardening schools in his district and keeping guns out of the hands of troubled kids.

"We have to get kids the help that they need," Schwalbach said.

State Rep. Bobby Olszewski of Winter Garden also came to see the demonstration and listen to what parents in his district have to say about school safety.

"There's no question, I think, everything needs to be considered," Olszewski said.

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