Congratulations Marjory Stoneman Douglas Class of 2018! You are not just the future - you are the present. Keep changing the world. Keep making us proud. #MSDStrong #YouAreThePresent pic.twitter.com/czvZwezKSt— jimmy fallon (@jimmyfallon) June 3, 2018
It hasn’t been an easy year for the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which became a site of massacre after a gunman opened fire and killed 17 people in its hallways.
The Valentine’s Day carnage was one of the worst mass shootings in the modern U.S. history that gave birth to a new generation of gun control and social justice activists, who honored the lives lost in the shooting by taking to the streets and demanding an end to this senseless violence plaguing the country.
Now, a little over three months after the deadly shooting, the seniors at the ill-fated school gathered for their graduation ceremony and remember the classmates whose lives ended so soon and so brutally.
It was an emotional day, to say the least. The school had invited the families of the four murdered seniors – Nicholas Dworet, Joaquin Oliver, Meadow Pollack and Carmen Schentrup – who were recognized with posthumous diplomas.
Needless to say, it was an incredibly painful experience for parents of the victims.
Today my baby should be walking across the stage to receive her high school diploma. Instead her brother @PollackHunter is receiving it on her behalf because she was killed.— Andrew Pollack (@AndrewPollackFL) June 3, 2018
Please visit https://t.co/bwNJd0WPNw to help prevent more families from feeling the pain I feel. #FixIt pic.twitter.com/IvWuLu6fdZ
The parents of Joaquin Oliver, one of the students slain in the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas in February, walk on stage during graduation to accept his diploma.— ABC News (@ABC) June 3, 2018
Four posthumous diplomas were handed out at the ceremony. https://t.co/TW6fykfwrg pic.twitter.com/gd86yEKPtN
My ?? is with the MSD C/O 2018 today. ??— April Schentrup (@AprilSchentrup) June 3, 2018
For me, it is too painful to celebrate w/o Carmen. But I am proud of Carmen’s friends & classmates on their accomplishments. They’ve overcome so much. I know they will cont to make positive changes.
Carmen’s senior photo w/ cap & gown. pic.twitter.com/L808KwGNc0
However, the surprise appearance of late-night talk show host Jimmy Fallon did manage to bring some lightheartedness to an otherwise heartbreaking day.
“Today you're graduating from high school,” the host of “The Tonight Show” told the graduating class in an attempt to provide some comic relief. “You should feel incredibly proud of yourselves. That doesn't mean you should rest on your laurels – or your yannys. Some of you will grow up to hear yanny, some of you will grow up to hear laurel, but the most important thing for you to know is that neither of these things will matter by the end of the summer.”
Fallon also joked about the reality of graduating high school.
“Here's what will matter: you, the class of 2018, will have graduated. And you won't be classmates anymore. You'll be adults who Facebook search each other at two in the morning for the next ten years,” he continued.
However, he then turned a little serious.
“First thing is this: when something feels hard, remember that it gets better. Choose to move forward. Don’t let anything stop you,” the celebrity told the students, tanking them for their courage. “You are not just the future – you are the present. Keep changing the world. Keep making us proud.”
His words of advice seemed to have resonated with the students, who appeared beyond excited to see the NBC host at the ceremony.
JIMMY FALLON CAME TO OUR GRADUATION DAWG WTF pic.twitter.com/7Mys8t5l6H— sid ???? (@sidfischer00) June 3, 2018
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Staff/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images