New memorial garden takes root at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

Survivors, parents on hand for unveiling of on-campus tribute

PARKLAND, Fla. – A brand-new marker at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School now serves as a backdrop for a fresh garden sprouting up with an abundance of love. 

Student Victoria Gonzalez is one of the creators.

"The administration at my school hasn't done much to memorialize any of those 17," Gonzalez said, referring to 17 people killed in a mass shooting at the school last February. "Feels like they've kind of avoided it so we took it upon ourselves to do that."

Among the victims was Gonzalez's boyfriend, Joaquin Oliver.

"He's my heart," she said.

She tearfully hugged Oliver's parents at the unveiling Sunday. The project has the full support of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School parents and families.

The flowers were planted on Christmas Eve.

"I'm just amazed by how much it grew by and how much everybody helped with MSD strong," Roman White, 10, said.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School teacher Ronit Reoven is the other co-creator of the memorial garden. She and others worked to make sure the details honored the victims, complete with butterflies etching the names of the victims.

"We have the solar angels that light up at night. We have the stones. We have the butterflies, and we have the garden items that have been placed here so it's truly a garden of love," Reoven said. "It is so therapeutic to come out here and watch this grow -- simply that. Watching this reminds me every day that people can be kind."

About the Author:

Terrell Forney joined Local 10 News in October 2005 as a general assignment reporter. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, but a desire to escape the harsh winters of the north brought him to South Florida.