It’s graduation season all across the country, and students everywhere are saying their goodbyes for the summer (or longer, if they’re graduating seniors) and of course, getting their yearbooks signed.
Unfortunately for the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the festivities are still clouded by the looming shadow of the tragic shooting that happened in February 2018, claiming the lives of 17 students and teachers. Staff and students are still dealing with the trauma of that day, a burden they will likely carry with them for years (if not the rest of their lives).
In an attempt to help its community cope with that trauma, Stoneman Douglas High School enlisted the help of 14 therapy dogs, and this year the helpful animals got their own yearbook page.
We’ve included these cuties in the yearbook ???????? pic.twitter.com/CZScvAhjCN
— Aerie Yearbook (@AerieYearbook) May 3, 2019
The yearbook’s editor-in-chief, Caitlynn Tibbetts, said:
“It’s a balancing act. After the shooting we wanted that yearbook to be perfect and had to cover as much as possible. This year, we wanted to give proper representation of our school and who we are now without giving so much focus to what happened to us in the past. The therapy dogs are the one thing from last year that is permanent and positive.”
The dogs attend classes with students and hang out in the courtyard outside the cafeteria as students go to and from lunch, so the students can stop for a quick pet.
Teacher and yearbook adviser Sarah Lerner was thrilled with the addition of therapy jobs to the Stoneman Douglas High School campus. Lerner said, “There’s nothing a dog can’t fix. I’ll be teaching and in comes a dog and these big 18-year-old adults all the sudden become mushy 5-year-old kids and it’s been such a comfort for us.”
We love that Chief loves his yearbook! Make sure to find him to sign it. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/JHw0gjtptH
— Aerie Yearbook (@AerieYearbook) May 14, 2019
Lerner had the idea to include the 14 therapy dogs in the school’s yearbook: “We sat them up on chairs, they were smiling for the camera. It was the greatest day of my life.”
Just a few of the puppies who took pictures today… Grace, Emma & Chief were so happy to be included in the yearbook. pic.twitter.com/GYeSgyhMcv
— Aerie Yearbook (@AerieYearbook) October 3, 2018
A few of the pooches even ended up going to the prom.
A great, uplifting story that was born out of a tragic day that these students and staff will never forget.