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It’s an inside job, this documentary they call “MSD Reflects.” The students and their teacher who teamed up to make it could’ve interviewed themselves. The piece has very little narration – instead, it relies on personal reflections and accounts from faculty and the kids of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, woven throughout its 45 minutes.
“I’m just kind of numb,” one student says in one sequence just before drama teacher Melody Herzfeld says, “I’m not anywhere near healed.”
“I really think that we had a unique perspective on everything because we’re insiders,” said television production teacher Eric Garner. “It’s the story of us from us, people were able to relax.”
“It’s my way of trying to heal myself,” said senior Zakari Kostzer, who was the producer.
The piece pays tribute to each of the 17 victims, of course, and chronicles all the major events of the year since the calamity. Candlelight vigils, students greeted by therapy dogs when they came back to school, visits from Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade, the Feis Bowl football game – it’s all there.
A large part of the documentary is devoted to the March For Our Lives demonstration in Washington and the rally and march in Parkland.
All of it carries the weight of profound meaning for kids who are so emotionally invested in the story, so it wasn’t easy to put together.
“The process of doing the documentary every single day for a couple of weeks and months and it’s just reliving that day and the moments after, over and over again,” Zakari explained.
Zakari wears an orange wrist band to remember his friend, Jaime Guttenberg, one of the 17 who died. Everyone bared their souls for this project.
“Some days I just want to cry,” one teacher admits, “while other days are slightly better.”
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“Speaking about my pain and helping others deal with their pain is my therapy,” a student says in the documentary.
Principal Ty Thompson appears twice, in one clip he says, “We’re starting to move forward, but I can’t say it’s normal, it’s probably never gonna be normal.”
“MSD Reflects” finishes with a message to look ahead.
“Try to live life fully,” says football coach Willis May, Jr.
Science teacher Kyle Jeter ends the documentary with this thought: “Try to focus on the positives as much as possible.”