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After year of action, silence to mark Florida school shooting

After year of action, silence to mark Florida school shooting
FILE PHOTO: The initials of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and a placard are placed on the fence at Park Trails Elementary School, following a mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, U.S., April 9, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlin/File Photo -
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Carlos Garcia Rawlins(Reuters)
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By Zachary Fagenson

PARKLAND, Fla. (Reuters) - One year after the Valentine's Day massacre inside a Florida school, students and families leading a nationwide push for gun safety will pause on Thursday for the anniversary of the deadliest U.S. high school shooting.

Many students were expected to stay home from a shortened class day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where a former student with an assault gun killed 17 people on Feb. 14, 2018.

A moment of silence and community service activities are planned in local schools, and the city of Parkland will host an evening vigil at a park where a similar event the day after the shooting showcased angry grief and spurred calls for action.

Some activists who seized the spotlight after the shooting to rally against gun violence expected to observe the day in private.

David Hogg has struggled with his grief while emerging as a prominent student activist who co-founded the March for Our Lives movement.

"We can't move on from this, when it's something that never should have happened," he told reporters this week, saying he planned to spend the day quietly with family. "You can't move on from your sister constantly crying, every day, because she doesn't have her four best friends anymore."

For parent Fred Guttenberg, the year since the shooting already has seen his first Father's Day, birthday and other emotional milestones without his 14-year-old daughter Jaime, who was killed in a school hallway.

He used some of those days as a platform to advocate for gun safety. But on the one-year mark of Jaime's death, he planned to retreat and spend time at her gravesite.

"Feb. 14, I am just not going to be present. I can't," he said in a recent interview.

After his 14-year-old son, Alex, was shot dead in English class, Max Schachter left his work in insurance to focus on school safety. As the first anniversary approached, with his wife and other children still processing their loss, he noted there is no blueprint for getting through challenging days of mourning.

"To me, it's just another day that I don't have my little boy. Every day is hard," he said. "It's horrible. No one ever thinks that they're going to send their kid off to school and then they not come home."

(Additional reporting and writing by Letitia Stein; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Tom Brown)

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