Prom is an important night in every teen’s life, but for seniors at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the event served as an immensely hopeful celebration and a night to remember those lost.
On Saturday, months after a mass shooting killed 17 members of the Parkland, Florida school community on Feb 14., students came together to attend their senior prom, and honor the four seniors killed in the attack.
Many students, including well-known activists like Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg, and Delaney Tarr, shared photos of the big night, creative promposals, and touching tributes to fallen friends. Get some tissues, because the celebration was utterly beautiful.
Using the hashtag #msdprom18, students gave the world a look at their night of togetherness and displays of immense strength.
Gonzalez, who recently joined Instagram, shared photos of herself with her parents and close friends like David Hogg.
Delaney Tarr also shared snapshots from the night, captioning one post, “Last night was the only (and best) way to say goodbye to MSD. Love y’all.”
And another student, Dillon McCooty, reportedly escorted the girlfriend of his best friend Joaquin Oliver — who was killed in the shooting — to the prom in his honor.
Parkland students are off to Stoneman Douglas prom tonight! Joaquin Oliver’s best friend, Dillon McCooty, is taking Joaquin’s girlfriend Victoria Gonzalez to prom, in honor of his friend. ❤️
— 𝕊𝕥𝕖𝕡𝕙𝕒𝕟𝕚𝕖 𝕎𝕒𝕤𝕙 (@WashNews) May 5, 2018
The social media hashtags were filled with photographs of creative promposals, as well as photos and videos from the prom.
The prom was held at the Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort, which covered the cost of the event. Decorations, food, and DJ services were also donated by vendors, according to NBC News. A “Beautifully Strong Douglas Prom Makeover Event” was also held prior to the prom, so students could get their hair and makeup done for free by a team of professionals.
Principal Thompson tweeted throughout the night, sharing photos of the venue where decorations like an inspiring “MSD STRONG” ice sculpture can be seen.
NBC also reports that a memorial room was set up with pictures of the six missing seniors. (In addition to the four seniors killed in the shooting, two others also died by suicide and illness.) Journals were dedicated to each student, giving prom-goers who visited the rooms an opportunity write heartfelt messages.
The celebration reportedly included 17 seconds of silence to honor the 17 lives lost in the shooting, and symbolic butterflies were released into the sky later that night.
After a heartbreaking year filled with terrible loss and brave protesting, these students deserved a fun night with friends to celebrate their perseverance.