I (finally) saw “Parkland Rising” today. It was featured at the Slamdance Miami Film Festival.
I participated in the filming over three years ago. I recently received a text from Lori, a producer who linked me with the project initially, and who I’ve kept in touch with over the years. She told me about the screening, and I was so happy to be included in the event. Once I arrived, I wasn’t sure who to see, or if they even knew I was there. She told me to ask for the director, Cheryl McDonough (pictured below). When I walked over to her, she said that she was just about to look for me. We hugged and I thanked her so much for having me at the screening, and also for including me in the film. She told me that she was so happy I was there, and then asked me to be a part of the panel discussion after the showing.
Standing with us was Taylor, the festival director. She hugged me also, and expressed her gratitude for attending. I told them both I hadn’t seen the film before, and then she hugged me again.
I don’t really cry much anymore when I talk about 2/14 in general or my experience that day. I guess I’m detached from it. It also feels like I’m telling someone else’s story. This film made me cry – not ugly crying, but crying just the same. I wasn’t upset through the whole thing, but I got choked up with Fred Guttenberg talked about Jaime (who was my student). I was also sad seeing the people on the screen – the people I knew & know – speak so openly & candidly.
“Parkland Rising” was perfect. The film showed our trauma, struggle & resiliency. It perfectly encapsulated the different facets of the community and showed the larger impact that the “kids from Parkland” had and still have on the country.
After the screening, I was on the panel with Matt Deitsch (co-founder of March for Our Lives) and Manuel & Patricia Oliver (parents of Joaquin Oliver & founders of Change the Ref). Taylor & Cheryl were also on the stage. It always strikes me how we all went through the same event, but experienced it so differently & still experience things differently.
We answered questions about how we find support, about mental health, running for public office, areas we feel are lacking, etc. I was very open and honest. I feel like so many people outside of our campus at the district want to whitewash everything and sweep it under the rug like it never happened… like, the kids have all graduated & it’s over. It’s not over. It will never be over. There are dozens of teachers, like me, who still work there and will continue to work there for many years to come. I shared about my PTSD, how helping the students during the past three years helped me but also weighed very heavily on me. It’s not easy doing what we do, but we have to keep doing it.
Cheryl told me that the film won the Audience Award at the festival. Not sure why it’s a dog…