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Parkland students honour their therapy dogs in yearbook following massacre

Parkland students honour therapy dogs in yearbook dog-happy
© AeerieYearbook - Twitter

After a gunman walked into the school and killed 17 children, the students at the Parkland high-school have had a team of therapy dogs on campus… and they even made it to the yearbook!

By Alice Lang , 21 May 2019

Let’s face it - any yearbook immediately becomes 10x better with the addition of dogs. But one American school, with an incredible story to tell, has actually made it happen.

The dogs are helping students heal

When a gunman walked onto the campus of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on February 14th of last year, it’d change the lives of the student forever. With 17 killed and a further 17 seriously injured, it comes as no surprise that staff and children were struggling with the aftermath of the shocking event.

But a team of adorable therapy dogs have joined the school in a bid to help students and staff heal. They greet the children with paw-shakes and high fives, hang around in the classrooms to help the kids feel calm and even attend the school’s events and proms.

Lerner, an English and journalism teacher and the yearbook adviser, said to Buzzfeed News: 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."

Adorable, right? And, it seems, totally effective, too.

And now they’re part of the yearbook

The dogs have played such a huge part in the student’s lives, that they decided it was only right to include them in the yearbook.

Caitlynn Tibbetts, chairwoman of the yearbook committee, 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 a 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.”

An ode to the future

When planning the yearbook, students were determined to make it a celebration. To achieve this, they used clean, bright colours and font and included stories about the victims throughout the pages in their memory.

"It's hard to be here some days because of the trauma and reliving and revisiting things," Lerner added. "I couldn't be prouder of my students and the yearbook they put together. Honestly, it's my favourite. We have a different perspective on things now, and it's not just a yearbook — it's a record of history."