One year after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, we remember the lives of the 17 lost and the works their families carry on in their names.
He spent over half his life at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, more than 20 years. The only thing Aaron Feis loved more than his school was his family, wife Melissa and daughter Ariel.
“He was Douglas football,” head coach Willis May told the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “He played here. He coached here. He loved the team and he had nothing but concern for the kids at all times.”
Feis, 37, went from player and student in the 1990s to assistant coach and staff member, a security guard who would roam the sprawling campus in his golf cart. “People called him ‘the mayor,’ ” former coach Mike Virden said at Feis’ funeral. “Because if you needed anything or anyone, he was the guy to go to.”
Football was his life, and his absence was felt this past season. ESPN recently spotlighted Feis and the Eagles’ 2018 season in “Parkland 17.”
In the TV special, May recalled how Feis would go out of his way to help players, taking time to put together highlight tapes from game films to impress college recruiters. “He was trying to get them in college,” May said. “He did it for nothing, for no money.”
Feis was often generous and gentle, but he could be strict when it came to coaching the offensive line, his former position. “One day we jumped off-sides in practice a couple times,’’ football player Gage Gaynor told the Sun Sentinel. “He made us do like 50 up-and-downs [exercises] to make sure it didn’t happen again.”
Feis helped players and students struggling with personal problems and difficult home situations. Although he liked to win, his brother Ray Feis said in the ESPN special, “For him it wasn’t so much about playing [or winning] … it was about teaching kids the skills through football to live their lives.”
Feis was large and physically imposing. As an offensive lineman, his role was to sacrifice for others, clearing holes for running backs and protecting quarterbacks. Life as a security guard was similar. Students recall how Feis would sit in his golf cart, arm draped over the steering wheel, as he kept a watchful eye over the parking lot in the morning when students got dropped off by parents.
“It’s like he was saying, ‘Don’t worry, I got ’em. I’ll watch out for them. I’ll take care of them,’ ” Ray Feis told ESPN.
Melissa Feis says those who want to make a donation in Aaron Feis’ memory may contribute to StandWithParkland.org, an advocacy group formed by Parkland victims’ families to promote safety and combat violence in schools.
Three feet of mud and raw sewage had flooded downtown Everglades City after Hurricane Irma by the time Alaina Petty arrived with shovels and volunteers from the Mormon Helping Hands program.
With her father, Ryan Petty, Alaina visited families stranded without electricity, mucking out flooded homes with shovels and rakes, cutting drywall, moving destroyed furniture, comforting people who lost everything in the storm.
This was Alaina in a nutshell: selfless and ready to serve. “On the drive back home – we were very tired – but I couldn’t help but feel that all of the kids, including Alaina, felt grateful for what they did,” Petty recalls. “What we hope people never forget about Alaina is she was ready to be your friend.”
When she wasn’t dedicated to community service, Alaina Joann Petty, 14, loved shooting at the gun range with her dad. She also loved her dogs Diego and Leo, and camping with her youth group from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Coral Springs.
At Stoneman Douglas, Alaina excelled as a Junior ROTC cadet, following her older brother Patrick, whom she idolized, into the program. “I thought she joined JROTC to get out of P.E.,” Petty says. “Then she won cadet of the quarter in December  — it’s remarkable. Her older brother was really jealous.” The U.S. Army posthumously awarded her with a Medal of Heroism.
The youngest of four children — Ian, Meghan and Patrick — Alaina moved from Washington state to Florida when she was 10, and is remembered by friends and family for her bright smile and love of Miami pop star Camila Cabello and bachata music, her sister Meghan says.
“She was happiest when she was helping others,” Meghan told the Eagle Eye, Stoneman Douglas’ student newspaper. “She would spend her weekends going to soup kitchens and just doing things that helped others’ lives […] She felt the most comfortable when she was sweating, working hard and making a difference.”
Ryan Petty says donations in Alaina’s memory may be made to the WalkUp Foundation, a nonprofit raising funds for mental-health programs, which has partnered with the Columbia Lighthouse Project and Sandy Hook Promise.
Alex Schachter wasn’t ready to grow up yet. He loved video games, throwing hoops, riding roller coasters and idolizing his big brother, Ryan.
“He just wanted to be a little kid,” his father, Max Schachter, said in the South Florida Sun Sentinel video project Voices of Change. “He loved to hug and cuddle. He was growing into such a wonderful young man.”
A driven honors student with an infectious smile, Alex played trombone and baritone for Stoneman Douglas’ orchestra and Eagle Regiment Marching Band, and played for the Parkland Basketball Club.
He practically lived in his University of Connecticut hoodie, taking his allegiance to the school from his late mother, Debbie, a UConn graduate who died when Alex was 4. UConn posthumously accepted Alex into its fine arts school as a music major.
Gail Schachter Schwartz, Alex’s aunt, remembers the 14-year-old as a “beautiful, sweet, loving, adorable nephew” who was inseparable around her sons. “They would do everything together,” Schwartz says. “We can’t go to the park and enjoy Alex anymore so one of my sons took some clothing from his bedroom closet. Now he wears Alex’s clothes so he can feel close to him.”
To honor the memory of Alex — also survived by his sisters Morgan and Avery — Max Schachter and his wife, Caryn, created Safe Schools for Alex, a campaign to help schools improve safety programs. The Alex Schachter Scholarship Fund supports Stoneman Douglas marching band students.
She was fast on the soccer field and quick on her feet as a competitive debater. When her mother would tell her that she couldn’t go to the mall, Alyssa Alhadeff would come up with 10 reasons why she should.
“She was spunky,” Lori Alhadeff told the student newspaper, the Eagle Eye. “She just always got her way and never gave up.” Alyssa, a freshman, was promoted to the school’s varsity soccer team by the end of her first season. Her family moved to Parkland from New Jersey in 2014 and Alyssa quickly made friends. She loved the beach, boys, her smartphone and making people laugh.
Lori and Ilan Alhadeff wrote the following for the South Florida Sun Sentinel:
“It was only a week before Feb. 14, 2018 that our daughter, Alyssa, had selected her course load for her sophomore year. Honors English, Pre-Calculus, Chemistry and Spanish 4 topped her list ... quite a head, and a handful ahead of her! So difficult to imagine, though, that we now must write about our beautiful 14-year-old in the past tense.
“Not only an academic talent, Alyssa shined brightly athletically as well. She began playing soccer at age 3, and in high school held the position of attacking midfielder, wearing the number 8 with pride. Her unbelievable passing skills, coupled with her ability to communicate as a leader on the field, paved her way to athletic prowess.
“Alyssa was dedicated fully to her two younger brothers, Robbie and Coby. She even went so far as to convince her father to agree to unlimited Wi-Fi for the boys and herself!
“Alyssa’s presence in our lives will never be replaced.
“The light of all of our lives was dimmed forever on Feb. 14, 2018. We will spend the rest of our time trying to #liveforAlyssa, #playforAlyssa and #shineforAlyssa.”
Donations in Alyssa’s memory can be made to MakeOurSchoolsSafe.org. The nonprofit was started by the Alhadeff family and seeks to improve school safety nationwide. On Feb. 6, Alyssa’s Law mandating silent panic alarms in New Jersey public schools was signed by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy. Spurred by her daughter’s death, Lori Alhadeff was elected to the Broward School Board last year.
Her first name translates to “friend” in Irish, but Cara Loughran was so much more: infectiously happy and kindhearted, selfless with an easy smile.
The 14-year-old, who loved her Irish heritage and the color purple, fiercely devoted herself to friends and the beach, surfing and gymnastics. But Irish dancing dominated her life: Watching “Riverdance,” her first theater show, inspired her to study at the Drake School of Irish Dance in Coral Springs. She planned to keep dancing through college. Drake dancers now wear purple bows to honor Loughran’s memory at performances and competitions.
Cara’s parents Denise and Damian Loughran wrote the following for the South Florida Sun Sentinel:
“Cara was an amazing child with a heart of gold. She loved life and her family and friends. She had a way of bringing joy to everyone in her life. Cara had a smile that was extremely contagious. You couldn’t help but smile back at her. She was extremely supportive of her friends and always willing to help anyone who needed her. Cara brought light and joy to all who knew her.
“Cara was a wonderful student and took her studies very seriously, she worked hard and took pride in her academic accomplishments.
“She was a wonderful daughter and an amazing sister. Cara’s brother, Liam, was her best friend and she loved him dearly. She had many great friends who loved her very much. Her friends referred to her as the glue that bound them all together many times.
“She was a beach lover and completely happy whenever she was near the ocean. She loved surfing and Irish dance. Her favorite color was purple and she loved butterflies.
“Cara was so much fun to be around. She would giggle and laugh at anything remotely funny, which amused everyone around her. Her kind and gentle nature was inspiring to all who loved her.
“We were so proud of the wonderful young lady Cara was. Referring to her in the past tense is still too painful to bare.
“Losing Cara left a gaping hole in the lives of all who loved her. Cara will be forever loved and missed.”
She played violin and piano, sang a capella and liked country music. She read voraciously – everything from Shakespeare to science fiction – and enjoyed movies and theater. She liked shopping, particularly for shoes, and hanging out with her friends. Carmen Schentrup, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, crammed much into her life. She studied German before her family went on a summer vacation to Germany and she studied Latin. When her father told her to take it easy during senior year, she dropped orchestra but kept her six Advanced Placement courses. Carmen died seven days before her 17th birthday. She is survived by her parents, April and Philip Schentrup, older brother Robert and younger sister Evelyn.
April Schentrup wrote the following for the South Florida Sun Sentinel:
“Our beloved daughter, Carmen Schentrup, was taken from us on February 14, 2018. She was one of 17 victims of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Her life was cut too short. For the last year, we have tried to make sense of the senseless, and we have grieved with the other families.
“Carmen was silly, playful, and caring. She often made us laugh and was always looking to help others. She had wonderful friends, many of whom helped us in our time of need. She is deeply missed by all who knew and loved her.
“Carmen was also a dedicated, straight-A student. She was accepted into the University of Florida Honors Program and as a University of Washington Purple and Gold Scholar. She was excited to begin college. The day after her tragic death, she received a letter informing her she was a National Merit Finalist.
“Carmen wanted to make the world a better place. She was determined to become a leading medical researcher and discover a cure for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease). We truly believe that Carmen was going to change the world.
“Our family partnered with the ALS Association to honor Carmen’s dream and created the ‘Carmen Schentrup ALS Research Fund.’ All funds raised will go directly to the most promising ALS research. We hope that, with enough help from all of you, Carmen’s dream of a world freed from ALS can be achieved.
“To our dear Carmen, you are a bright, beautiful, young woman bursting into the world. You are an amazing daughter, sister, and friend. You fill our lives with loving memories that we will always cherish. You are a gift from God and into His arms you return. May His divine embrace now hug you so very tenderly where we cannot. We love and miss you dearly.”
Donations in Carmen’s memory can be made to ALSA.org/carmensdream.
He’s remembered as a good-humored husband and loving father, a Stoneman Douglas athletic director and wrestling coach, the man who literally gave the shirt off his back. But to his wife, Debbi, Chris Hixon deserves one more accolade: hero.
"People remember Chris as a hero on that day," Debbi Hixon says. "We remember him as a hero every day. It's not a surprise what happened on Feb. 14. That was just who he was. We remember him as a hero not because of how he died, but because of how he lived. He always put people before himself."
A native of Easton, Penn., Hixon, 49, lived in Hollywood and was a fixture at youth sporting events, first as a high school wrestler, and later as athletic director at Blanche Ely and South Broward high schools. Heroism defined Hixon long before Feb. 14: He served two Persian Gulf tours in the U.S. Navy (Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield), and deployed to Iraq in 2007 as a U.S. Naval Reservist.
But to students he coached, Hixon is hailed as a compassionate, no-nonsense leader who treated them like family.
“Coach Hixon, for me, was a father figure,” Karlos Valentin, a senior, told the South Florida Sun Sentinel in 2018. ”We were pretty much with him six days a week — three-to-four-to-five hours. His loss was just terrible.”
Hixon, voted 2017 Athletic Director of the Year by the Broward County Athletic Association, is survived by sons Tommy and Corey, and daughter Jennifer. Before his death, Hixon and Corey trained to run a 5K together. Last July at the ESPY Awards in Los Angeles, Hixon and his fellow coaches — Scott Beigel and Aaron Feis — were posthumously honored as 2018 Coaches of the Year.
Donations made in Hixon’s memory will benefit the Chris Hixon Scholarship Fund, awarded to one student athlete each from Blanche Ely, South Broward and Stoneman Douglas. The fund is hosting an Inaugural Chris Hixon Memorial 5K walk/run at 7 a.m. Feb. 16 at Charnow Park, 300 Connecticut St., Hollywood. Go to ChrisHixonAthleticScholarship.com.
A thrill-seeker with a fierce competitive spirit, Gina Montalto, 14, loved dabbling in anything that made her heart race: tennis, soccer, flag football and extreme roller coasters.
When she wasn’t surfing, snorkeling or skiing, Montalto is best remembered by friends and parents Jennifer and Tony Montalto for being caring and selfless, whip-smart and faithful, and marching in Stoneman Douglas’ Eagle Regiment Marching Band and Color Guard. She also loved selling Girl Scout cookies for her troop, worshiping with her youth group at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church and hanging with her younger brother, Anthony.
Jennifer and Tony Montalto sent the following message to the South Florida Sun Sentinel:
“Gina Rose Montalto, age 14, was a special girl who melted the heart of everyone she met. Her infectious smile was there from the start and brightened any room she entered. This was a quality she retained throughout her amazing life. Gina was instant friends with everyone she met. A caring and loving soul, she was often the first to reach out to the new kids in class and welcome them into the neighborhood. She also had a great sense of humor and a penchant for being silly — even goofy at times.
Always trying to make things better for others, Gina loved to do volunteer work, especially if it involved helping kids. She was a Girl Scout and active in a local church. Gina was known to all as an avid reader and a talented artist who illustrated for a local magazine. Once she told her mother that she loved books so much she wanted to live in a library.
She loved to cook with her Father and her Grandmother, especially during the holiday season. She enjoyed shopping days with her Mom, and NY Jets games with her Dad.
Gina joined the MSD Color Guard. She competed through the spring and was a part of the Eagle Regiment as they won the FL state championship in the fall of 2017. She always earned the highest grades in school and had a bright future ahead of her. Gina will be missed not only by her family, but by everyone whose life she touched.”
Donations in Gina’s memory may be made to the Gina Rose Montalto Memorial Foundation, which helps students with post-secondary education costs.
An introvert with a wicked wit, she surrounded her life with nature and travel — even in her dreams: She fantasized about seeing pink dolphins in the Amazon rain forest and studying abroad after high school.
Even more, Helena Ramsay, 17, loved nature at home, avidly tending to her plot at the Rotary Community Garden and Food Forest in Coral Springs with her mother, Anne Ramsay.
"She was blossoming. She would have definitely been a leader," Anne told the Associated Press last year. When Helena was 2, the Ramsays moved to Coral Springs from Portsmouth, England, to live closer to Anne’s parents.
At Stoneman Douglas, the junior cared deeply about human rights, serving in the school’s United Nations Model Club and First Priority Club, a Christian youth organization. But travel never strayed far from Helena’s thoughts: She planned to study environmental science overseas, taking after her London-born mother, who graduated with a science degree. During her freshman year, Helena and a student group traveled to Barcelona, London and Paris with her teacher, Ivy Schamis.
Friends remember Helena as smart and compassionate yet quiet — until you met her, and then she was ebullient, eager to share her quirks. Samantha Grady, who met her best friend in seventh grade civics class at Sawgrass Middle School, calls her fiercely devoted to her cats. Anne, Helena and her brother, Ellis, would adopt whole litters and have them spayed and neutered at Cat Adoptions in Margate.
Grady says they bonded best over music — Twenty One Pilots, Lana Del Rey — but especially over Korean pop bands and “K-dramas,” or Korean soap operas.
“We were always talking about the characters,” says Grady, who says that “Descendants of the Sun” was Helena’s favorite K-drama. “Helena really paid attention to what you said and stuck up for what she believed in. I once said, randomly, ‘I love fuzzy socks!’ and every year for my birthday, she gets me fuzzy socks.”
Around the Guttenberg household, family called it the “kangaroo kick.” Fred Guttenberg calls it a “close call.”
When Jaime Guttenberg was 12, he recalls, she told him she stepped between a bully and his victim at school. Fred grew alarmed. “You’re going to get hurt,” he told her.
“She said, ‘People underestimate me because of my size,’ and I said back, ‘You think you’re tough?’ and I pushed her,” Guttenberg says. “She pushed back. So I pushed her again, and she gave me what became known around the house as the kangaroo kick. She has these strong dancer’s legs. I turned at just the right second, but ow, that could’ve been — whew. When I composed myself, I said, ‘I should be mad at you right now, but if that happens with a bully, that’s exactly what you do.’ ”
Vocal and passionate, and always a champion of children with special needs, Jaime, 14, was a firecracker on the dance floor, competing as a member of Dance Theatre’s Extreme Team in Parkland. Jaime, who began dancing at age 3, is remembered by friends and family as the sassy life of the party, a jokester, an old soul and obsessed with dogs.
Jaime volunteered for Best Buddies, a nonprofit creating friendships for people with disabilities, and the Friendship Initiative, which provides programs for special-needs individuals. As a freshman, Jaime had already figured out the rest of her life: a pediatric physical therapist at the Paley Institute — taking after her mom’s career — and married with children by age 25.
“She was the best daughter ever, the best sister and the best friend ever,” Jennifer Guttenberg told the Eagle Eye. Jaime is survived by her older brother, Jesse.
Donations may be made in Jaime’s memory to OrangeRibbonsforJaime.org (orange was her favorite color), which benefits Jacob’s Pillow, Paley Institute and the Broward County Humane Society. The nonprofit supports programs pursuing gun-safety reforms, Fred Guttenberg says.
“I’m going to continue spending the rest of my life honoring my daughter, but also showing why her life was cut short,” Guttenberg says. “I want the orange ribbon to be the symbol of the gun safety movement. It’s a way to ensure the way my daughter’s life ended will never be forgotten.”
With his frosted hair, caring smile and strong moral compass, 17-year-old Joaquin Oliver, or “Guac,” as friends called him, filled his life with sports, music and friends in equal measure.
Born in Caracas, Venezuela, Joaquin immigrated to America at age 3 with his father Manuel, mother Patricia and sister Andrea, becoming a naturalized citizen in 2017. He never strayed from his roots, relentlessly cheering Venezuela’s national soccer team and the Miami Heat.
Around Parkland, Joaquin loved pick-up basketball games after school at Pine Trails Park, when he wasn’t shooting hoops and blocking goals for the city’s youth basketball and soccer leagues. “He was always so, so fair,” his sister, Andrea Ghersi, told the student newspaper, Eagle Eye. “In his eyes, everyone deserved to be happy … everyone deserved to have a voice.”
Once, flustered after a basketball referee ejected him from a game, Joaquin turned to his coach — his father. Manuel Oliver called the league to ask that the referee be replaced with someone more fair.
“We wanted a fair game,” says Oliver, whose gun-safety organization, Change the Ref, is named in Joaquin’s memory. Since the mass shooting, Oliver has staged gun-control rallies across the country, painting murals emblazoned with Joaquin’s face. “The best way to honor Joaquin is to fight to make sure this won’t happen to anyone else.”
Joaquin loved Frank Ocean and hip-hop — even tolerated Manuel’s “dad rock.” Oliver fondly recalls one father-son summer trip to Cocoa Beach, quickly scuttled when Joaquin realized Guns N’ Roses were performing in Orlando that night. “Joaquin said, ‘Let’s go,’ and two hours later, we’re looking at GNR onstage. His favorite guitar player is Slash, and his favorite book is ‘The Godfather,’ so when that played [the theme from Francis Ford Coppola’s] ‘The Godfather,’ he totally flipped. I will never forget that moment in his life.”
Donations in Joaquin’s memory may be made at ChangetheRef.org.
To friends, 15-year-old Luke Hoyer was a basketball teammate with a generous smile, a lover of video games, a voracious eater of chicken nuggets.
To his mother, Gina Hoyer, he was simply “Lukey Bear.”
“We would like Luke to be remembered for his contagious smile, laid-back personality, and love for his friends and family,” Hoyer says. “He brought humor and happiness to all those around him. He was a quiet soul with a big heart. We will never forget who we lost that day and never forget who we live for.”
A native of Louisville, Colo., Luke loved basketball and college football, especially the Miami Heat and the Clemson University Tigers. (His father, Tom Hoyer, is a Clemson alum.) Luke’s regular haunt: shooting hoops with friends at the Parkland Golf and Country Club, which in October dedicated one of its courts in his memory. Although he played for the Parkland Basketball Club, the freshman planned on trying out for the Stoneman Douglas football team.
His sister, Abby, and brother, Jake, adored their brother’s quiet demeanor and one-word answers, although he “always knew how to make you laugh,” Abby says in the Stoneman Douglas yearbook. “There wasn’t one picture taken that Mom didn’t have to say to Luke, ‘Please try to take a normal picture,’ or, ‘Is that how you want to look in the scrapbook?’ ”
Donations made in Luke’s memory should be directed through Voices for Children of Broward County to the Luke Hoyer Athletic Fund at VoicesBroward.org, which provides sports equipment and training to children for basketball, football and dance, and to StandWithParkland.org, the parents’ advocacy group.
Nicknamed “Junior” by friends and family, Martin Duque loved churchgoing as much as he did soccer and the latest “Star Wars” movie.
A native of Coyuca De Catalan, Mexico, Martin immigrated to the United States at age 8 with his parents, Daisy and Martin Sr., and four brothers.
“Martin should be remembered for being a hero who always talked about God,” brother Alex Duque wrote in the Stoneman Douglas yearbook. “I loved growing up with him and seeing his beautiful smile.”
At Stoneman Douglas, Martin earned a heap of accolades as a JROTC cadet for perfect attendance, good conduct, leadership development. The U.S. Army posthumously awarded him with a Medal of Heroism for acts of heroism in the face of danger.
Martin’s brother, Miguel, who graduated from Stoneman Douglas in 2018, described his brother on Instagram as “a very funny kid, outgoing and sometimes really quiet.” In 2018, Miguel created a GoFundMe that raised $49,543 to handle funeral expenses.
“I shared 14 years with you, left Mexico when we were kids,” Miguel wrote on the social network. “I changed your diapers, I taught you how to walk … you taught me love, to always smile no matter how tough the situation was, to always help others … There are no words to describe the amazing person you are because you will always live in my heart and memory.”
A princess with a smile like sunshine who adored anything pink, Meadow Pollack is described by friends and family as ambitious but tender, as smart as she was self-assured.
The youngest of three children, Meadow, 18, enjoyed spending time with her boyfriend of three years, Brandon Schoengrund, and working at his Pompano Beach motorcycle shop. With her mother, Shara Kaplan, she volunteered at the Humane Society and doted on the family’s two cats and German shepherd, Jasmine.
A senior at Stoneman Douglas, Meadow aspired to be an attorney and planned to attend Lynn University in Boca Raton after graduation. “She was my only daughter, you know, and she was my baby,” her father Andrew Pollack told the South Florida Sun Sentinel last year. “I’ll never be able to walk her down the aisle. Meadow was a great kid, an all-around girl, beautiful inside and out.”
Pollack, along with Meadow’s surviving brothers Huck and Hunter, have become school-safety advocates, promoting an eight-point plan through his grassroots organization Americans for C.L.A.S.S. The Pollack family has also organized motorcycle rides in Meadow’s name, and is building Princess Meadow’s Playground with 17 memorial fountains inside Betti Stradling Park in Coral Springs.
Hunter Pollack cherishes memories of texting workout advice with Meadow (“She was huge into lifting weights,” he recalls) and playing kickball as children at Betti Stradling Park, their neighborhood haunt.
“We made sure we were the most superior kids on the playground,” Pollack says. “I have pictures of Meadow in my room that serve as a little reminder that if I don’t kick butt, I let my sister down. And I won’t let her down.”
To honor Meadow’s memory, Pollack says the family isn’t looking for donations, but rather solutions to prevent mass shootings. “[Parkland] was the most preventable mass shooting. My dad and I have laid out the facts. It’s about people stepping out and doing the right thing.”
A champion in the lap pool Nicholas Dworet had won a scholarship to the University of Indianapolis and found joy in constant motion.
When the 17-year-old wasn’t swimming, he traveled to Sweden to visit grandparents and competed in triathlons with his parents, Mitch and Annika Dworet, and younger brother Alexander. Nick captained the Stoneman Douglas swim team, once winning fifth place in the 4A State Championship in the 100-meter freestyle.
His blueprint for success: a whiteboard in his bedroom, on which he wrote his life goals and inspirational quotes. Written on his goal sheet taped next to Nick’s bed: “I will train as hard as I can in and out of the water. Even on my hardest days I swear to give it my all, and I will let nothing stand in my way.”
For Nick, the goal was competing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the Dworets said. “We honor Nick for his love of life, his true love Daria, his positive attitude and his respect for what he cherished most: his family and friends.”
They sent the following message to the South Florida Sun Sentinel:
“Nick visited Sweden with his family many times over the years to visit his grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, but his last trip to Sweden this summer was a very special one where he was able to bring his girlfriend Daria to show her his heritage and the beautiful country.
“Far from perfect, and a typical teenager, he had a habit of ‘collecting’ empty Oreo packages in his closet, running his car almost on empty, and somehow always going over his monthly cellular data limit, leaving wrappers and used paper plates in the car as he ate on his way to practice. Always the charmer, he only had to flash his million-dollar smile, and all was forgiven.
“Nicholas was many things: a romantic, a dreamer, a mentor to so many on his swim team where he was given the nickname “Big Boss”; a music lover, a lover of life, a true friend, best brother ever, a son that brought so much joy to his parents, and so much more. But most of all, his spark of life will be forever with us and forever missed.”
Donations may be made to Swim4Nick.com, a nonprofit honoring Nicholas’ memory with swim clinics and scholarships for Stoneman Douglas swimmers.
He played basketball and was a fan of the Houston Rockets. He liked video games, anime cartoons and hip-hop. As a freshman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, he joined JROTC and impressed the unit’s leaders with his marksmanship.
Peter Wang was like any all-American kid, a native New Yorker who came to South Florida when he was young. But he was hardly ordinary. He straddled two worlds and two cultures throughout his life, adapting to the United States while respecting his family’s Chinese heritage.
His parents hail from the Fujian coastal province of China and arrived in the U.S. in 2000. Peter was born in Brooklyn in 2002. The family returned to China for two years when he was an infant, then moved to Florida. His parents owned restaurants, first in Miami Gardens and then in Pompano Beach.
Peter spoke English and Mandarin. He’d watch over two younger brothers, Jason and Alex, while his father Kong and mother Hui worked long hours. He’d play video games but also was athletic and disciplined, swimming at a local aquatics center and taking up taekwondo. He enjoyed taking friends to his parents’ Asian buffet restaurant, where they’d devour sushi, dumplings and Chinese hot pot. When his mother asked him to do something, Peter would obey without being asked twice.
“He is the person who is genuinely kind to everyone,” Lin Chen, his cousin, told the South Florida Sun Sentinel last year. “He always liked to cheer people up. He is like the big brother everyone wished they had.”
His focus shifted to academics and military training when he entered high school. Peter wanted to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He was posthumously admitted to the West Point class of 2025. The U.S. Army also posthumously awarded him with a Medal of Heroism. Peter Wang was 15.
He was a geography teacher and cross-country coach who always seemed to find true north. For Scott Beigel, that meant being dedicated to his students and helping kids. He grew up on New York’s Long Island, earned an education degree from the University of Miami and spent every summer as a camp counselor in Pennsylvania. Beigel was in his first year as a teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. He volunteered to coach cross country, despite limited experience, to save the program.
“I choose to celebrate him and the 35 years we had together instead of mourning him,” says his mother, Linda Beigel Schulman. She wrote the following for the South Florida Sun Sentinel:
“Scott J. Beigel was 35 years old on February 14, 2018 when he was murdered during the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre. Scott was more than just a teacher and cross-country coach. He was a son, a brother, a grandson, a nephew, a cousin, an uncle, a friend, a camp counselor and a confidant. Scott was known for his dry humor and sharp sarcasm. Scott was humble and loved by all who got to know him. There was nothing Scott wouldn’t do for you — you just had to ask. Scott’s circle of friends was wide and endless.
Less than a week after the shooting, Run 4 Coach Beigel events were held all over the world in Scott’s honor. From Parkland to California. From South Korea to South Africa. From England to Australia. Scott was unassuming, but had an impact on everyone who came in contact with him. Scott loved Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School – the kids, the staff and especially his cross-country team.
Scott’s other passion was sleepaway camp. For 28 years Scott looked forward to going back to camp each and every summer to be with his campers and reconnect with the staff. Scott J. Beigel will be missed by all and is FOREVER IN OUR HEARTS!!!”
Donations in Beigel’s memory may be made to ScottJBeigelMemorialFund.com. The fund sends underprivileged children who have been impacted by gun violence to summer camp.
A previous version of this story misidentified Chris Hixon’s survivors. He is survived by one daughter, Jennifer.
Staff writer Doreen Christensen contributed to this report.