Everett Community College student Katina Brown attended Marysville Pilchuck High School. In 2014, when a Marysville Pilchuck freshman shot five students, killing four, before turning the gun on himself, Brown was working at a Denny’s restaurant on the Las Vegas Strip. By 2018, when a gunman in a Vegas hotel suite killed 58 people attending a concert on the strip, she was back in Snohomish County.
That Brown, at age 27, has links to two locales where mass shootings occurred may seem unlikely — until one considers all the places forever affected by those horrors. Springfield and Roseburg, Oregon. Columbine and Aurora, Colorado. The Virginia Tech campus and Sandy Hook Elementary School. Mukilteo and even tiny Freeman High School, 14 miles from my girlhood home in Spokane. There are many more.
As student survivors of Wednesday’s shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida take their potent gun-control message to lawmakers and the streets, Brown and others at EvCC are reaching out to help.
Brown, the diversity and engagement coordinator in EvCC’s Student Life office, will be in the Parks Cafe on campus 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday collecting donations to help Florida shooting victims and their families.
“We’re all students. Across the U.S., students are hurting,” said Brown, who is studying journalism. Soon after the Valentine’s Day shooting in Parkland, Florida, Brown and others involved in Student Life brainstormed how to respond.
She learned that the nonprofit Broward Education Foundation created an official Stoneman Douglas Victims’ Fund to support people affected by the tragedy. By Tuesday afternoon, $1,806,201 had been donated.
During the tribute in the Parks Student Union cafe, Brown will display a poster she made with names and pictures of the 17 Florida victims. Helped by Lindsay Hudson, EvCC Student Activities adviser, she also created awareness ribbons in burgundy and silver, school colors at Stoneman Douglas High. Those ribbons will be available during the cafe event.
Students also will be asked to fill out a survey seeking suggestions for an event next quarter to discuss school shootings. “We hope to have people from law enforcement, government and the mental health field to facilitate a conversation,” said Brown, adding “I need to learn more about gun laws.”
Cameron Calder, 21, is the social justice and current events coordinator in the Student Life office. An EvCC political science student, he’s working with Brown to organize the tribute. “As soon as these tragedies happen, it’s all about the numbers,” said Calder, looking at the young faces on Brown’s poster. “You forget about the humanity of it.”
Now living in Lynnwood, Calder attended high school in Loveland, Colorado, before graduating from Snohomish High. The 1999 Columbine High School shootings and the 2012 attack that killed 12 in an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater loomed large during his school years.
“At Loveland High it was so commonplace to have shooter drills. It was a running gag, a saying, that someone was ‘gonna go Columbine,’” Calder said. Frequent active shooter drills left him feeling that nothing kids practiced would stop a shooter armed with a powerful gun and lots of ammunition.
“It was ridiculous,” he said. “A teacher would close the shades, lock the doors, and we’d sit in a corner and wait.”
This isn’t the first time EvCC students have responded after a school shooting. When a gunman killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007, students in a study skills program on the Everett campus sold and wore $2 orange bracelets with the words “We Excel in Their Memory.”
Proceeds from that effort supported two causes: scholarships for EvCC students and the Virginia Tech Foundation’s Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund for grief counseling.
Now, Stoneman Douglas High School students are fast-forwarding beyond grief to action. With their “never again” slogan, they’re spreading the word about planned events. A national school walkout is planned for March 14 — at 10 a.m. in every time zone. For March 24, student organizers have scheduled a March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C. Another high school walkout is in the works for April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting.
At EvCC, the plan is to first help those who are hurting, then get together to talk solutions.
“This is about student life,” Brown said. “This is what we’re supposed to do.”
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@herald net.com.
Help for Florida
Everett Community College students will pay respects to victims of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting and collect donations to help those affected by the tragedy from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday in the Parks Cafe in the Parks Student Union. The campus is at 2000 Tower St. There will be a banner showing the victims’ names and pictures. Awareness ribbons will be available in the Florida high school’s colors, burgundy and silver.