Parkland school shooting: Stoneman Douglas students prepare to confront memories as they return to classes

For some students, going back to class at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, is like being forced to repeatedly board a downed airplane.

"It’s just really hard to think about," David Hogg, a senior who has become one of the more outspoken survivors, told NBC News on Tuesday. "Imagine getting in a plane crash and having to get back on the same plane again and again and again and being expected to learn and act like nothing’s wrong."

On Wednesday, the school will resume classes with a half-day schedule as Broward County attempts to return to normal. Hogg says he feels sick heading back to class knowing the only change at his school since gunfire rattled the South Florida community on Valentine's Day will be the 17 people who won't be there when he returns.

“It’s a disgusting idea to think about,” Hogg, 17, said of the lack of legislative action on school safety and gun control. “Literally nothing’s changed except that 17 people are dead.”

15 PHOTOS
Teachers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School return after shooting
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Teachers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School return after shooting
PARKLAND, FL - FEBRUARY 23: Margarita Lasalle (L-R), the budget keeper, and Joellen Berman, Guidance Data Specialist, and Holli Sutton visit the memorial in front of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as teachers and staff are allowed to return to the school for the first time since the mass shooting on campus on February 23, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Police arrested 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz for killing 17 people at the high school. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
PARKLAND, FL - FEBRUARY 23: Margarita Lasalle (R), the budget keeper, and Joellen Berman, Guidance Data Specialist, look on at the memorial in front of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as teachers and staff are allowed to return to the school for the first time since the mass shooting on campus on February 23, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Police arrested 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz for killing 17 people at the high school. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
PARKLAND, FL - FEBRUARY 23: Margarita Lasalle (R), the budget keeper, is hugged as she visits Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as teachers and staff are allowed to return to the school for the first time since the mass shooting on campus on February 23, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Police arrested 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz for killing 17 people at the high school. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
PARKLAND, FL - FEBRUARY 23: Elizabeth Smith (L) and Lindsey Riha both teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School hug each other as teachers and staff are allowed to return to the school for the first time since the mass shooting on campus on February 23, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Police arrested 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz for killing 17 people at the high school. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
PARKLAND, FL - FEBRUARY 23: Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie waves after meeting with the media in front of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as teachers and staff are allowed to return to the school for the first time since the mass shooting on campus on February 23, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Police arrested 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz for killing 17 people at the high school. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
PARKLAND, FL - FEBRUARY 23: A sign is seen on the fence around Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in front of the freshman dorm where a mass shooting took place on campus on February 23, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Police arrested 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz for killing 17 people at the high school. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
PARKLAND, FL - FEBRUARY 23: A sign is seen on the fence around Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in front of the freshman dorm where a mass shooting took place on campus on February 23, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Police arrested 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz for killing 17 people at the high school. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
PARKLAND, FL - FEBRUARY 23: Crime scene tape is seen outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as teachers and staff are allowed to return to the school for the first time since the mass shooting on campus on February 23, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Police arrested 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz for killing 17 people at the high school. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
PARKLAND, FL - FEBRUARY 23: Kay Blake (L) hugs school bus driver Pearlie Corker as they visit in front of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as teachers and staff are allowed to return to the school for the first time since the mass shooting on campus on February 23, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Ms. Corker was ready to pick up students from the high school as the shooting started. Police arrested 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz for killing 17 people at the high school. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
PARKLAND, FL - FEBRUARY 23: Margarita Lasalle, the budget keeper, and Joellen Berman, Guidance Data Specialist, look on at the memorial in front of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as teachers and staff are allowed to return to the school for the first time since the mass shooting on campus on February 23, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Police arrested 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz for killing 17 people at the high school. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
PARKLAND, FL - FEBRUARY 23: Margarita Lasalle (L), the budget keeper, and Joellen Berman, Guidance Data Specialist, look on at the memorial in front of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as teachers and staff are allowed to return to the school for the first time since the mass shooting on campus on February 23, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Police arrested 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz for killing 17 people at the high school. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
PARKLAND, FL - FEBRUARY 23: School bus driver Pearlie Corker (L) is hugged by Dr. Rosalind Osgood, a school board member, as they visit Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as teachers and staff are allowed to return to the school for the first time since the mass shooting on campus on February 23, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Ms. Corker was ready to pick up students from the high school as the shooting started. Police arrested 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz for killing 17 people at the high school. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
PARKLAND, FL - FEBRUARY 23: People arrive at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as teachers and staff are allowed to return to the school for the first time since the mass shooting on campus on February 23, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Police arrested 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz for killing 17 people at the high school. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
PARKLAND, FL - FEBRUARY 23: A person arrives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as teachers and staff are allowed to return to the school for the first time since the mass shooting on campus on February 23, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Police arrested 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz for killing 17 people at the high school. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
PARKLAND, FL - FEBRUARY 23: People arrive at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as teachers and staff are allowed to return to the school for the first time since the mass shooting on campus on February 23, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Police arrested 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz for killing 17 people at the high school. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
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Stoneman Douglas students are now joining the growing ranks of American schoolchildren who have had to learn how to cope with haunting memories after their campuses became the site of a national tragedy.

When it happened at Colorado's Columbine High School in 1999, Austin Eubanks, now 36, struggled to return to any semblance of the normal life he knew before the shooting.

Related: Parkland shooting victim Maddy Wilford speaks out following hospital release

While inside Columbine’s library, Eubanks, who was 17 years old at the time, was shot in the hand and knee — and his best friend was killed right next to him.

Eubanks said he later tried to return to the Columbine campus in his senior year but painful reminders of the massacre just months earlier surrounded him.

“My senior year I tried to go back, and I had just lost a best friend. I had been one of the students who was injured, and not only that, at the time they had not done the remodel on Columbine yet. All they did is take plywood and they made a wall where there used to be the entrance to the library,” Eubanks said.

25 PHOTOS
25 fatal school shootings since Columbine
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25 fatal school shootings since Columbine

April 20, 1999 - Columbine High School 

Photo Credit: Reuters

Nov. 20, 1999 - Deming Middle School, New Mexico 

(photo by Joe Raedle)

 February 29, 2000 - Buell Elementary School, Michigan 

Photo Credit: Reuters 

May 26, 2000 - Lake Worth Middle School, Florida 

Photo Credit: Reuters 

March 5, 2001 - Santana High School, California 

Photo Credit: REUTERS/Mike Blake MB/RCS

April 25, 2003 - Red Lion Area Junior High School, Pennsylvania

Photo Credit: Reuters 

September 24, 2003 - Rocori High School, Minnesota 

Photo Credit: Getty 

March 21, 2005. Red Lake High School, Minnesota

REUTERS/John Gress 

November 8, 2005 - Campbell County Comprehensive High School, Tennessee 

Photo Credit: Getty 

 Aug. 24, 2006 - Essex Elementary School, Vermont

 Photo Credit: Getty 

September 29, 2006 - Weston High School, Wisconsin 

(Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images)

October 2, 2006 - West Nickel Mines School, Pennsylvania 

(Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

January 5, 2011 - Millard South High School, Nebraska 

Photo Credit: Getty

February 27, 2012 - Chardon High School, Ohio

REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk 

December 14, 2012 - Sandy Hook Elementary, Connecticut 

 (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

October 21, 2013 - Sparks Middle School, Nevada. 

(Photo by David Calvert/Getty Images)

December 13, 2013 -  Arapahoe High School, Colorado

REUTERS/Rick Wilking 

June 10, 2014  - Reynolds High School, Oregon

(Photo by Natalie Behring/Getty Images)

October 24, 2014 -  Marysville-Pilchuck High School, Washington

REUTERS/Jason 

February 12, 2016 - Independence High School, Arizona 

Photo Credit: Getty 

September 28, 2016 - Townville Elementary, South Carolina

(Photo by Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

April 10, 2017 - North Park Elementary School, California 

 (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

September 13, 2017 - Freeman High School, Washington

Photo Credit: Getty 

January 23, 2018 - Marshall County High School, Kentucky

REUTERS/Harrison McClary

February 14, 2018 - Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Florida

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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Every time he passed the plywood, he was reminded that it masked “where, at the time, the worst school shooting in U.S. history occurred,” he said.

Eubanks said he numbed himself from the pain of Columbine by taking drugs, which led to a years-long addiction he has since overcome. As someone who has first-hand experience overcoming the trauma of school shootings, he urged the students of Stoneman Douglas to work through their pain rather than run from it.

Related: Florida officer Scot Peterson defends response to Parkland shooting

“Speak up about it,” Eubanks said. “That’s the most important part, because what happened for me is it was difficult, I didn’t want to do it so I detached. I detached from community. I detached from connection and I didn’t go through the healing that I know a lot of the student body did in the senior year that I missed.”

Eubanks has since become the chief operating officer of Foundry Treatment Center in Colorado, which deals with trauma and addiction. As the students of Stoneman Douglas return to campus, he says it’s important they do not disassociate from the events that occurred just two weeks ago.

Dr. Daniel S. Schechter, director of stress, trauma, and resilience in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at New York University Langone Health, agreed.

“It’s important to deal with the stress when they’re confronted with scene of the crime to be able to link themselves to present moment, which we use with people who have experienced bad things,” Schechter said, adding that grounding exercises are often used in situations where trauma has been experienced.

Schechter said it’s impossible to know which students will or won’t be susceptible to post-traumatic stress disorder as they return to campus, but that it’s important for students to be present in the moment as they confront the memories at school.

Related: FBI says it's trying to rebuild trust after botched Parkland tip

As students in Parkland prepared to confront the memories left on the Stoneman Douglas campus, Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced on Tuesday a $500 million investment in school safety and mental health as part of an action plan announced last week.

Stoneman Douglas students will return to campus starting at 7:40 a.m. ET and will be dismissed at 11:40 a.m. ET. This schedule is currently projected to last until March 2, according to the Broward Schools website.

While some students remain anxious about returning to the scene of the shooting, others students say they feel ready.

17 PHOTOS
Victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting
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Victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting

Scott Beige - Geography Teacher

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Elizabeth James Watt​​​​​​​

Chris Hixon - athletic director

Photo Credit: Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

15-year-old Alyssa Alhadeff

Photo Credit: Florida Youth Soccer Association

14-year-old Alex Schachter

Photo Credit : Getty 

14-year-old Cara Loughran

Photo Credit: Facebook

17-year-old Helena Ramsey

Photo Credit: Facebook

14-year-old Alaina Petty

Photo Credit: Facebook

14-year-old Gina Montalto

Photo Credit: Facebook

15-year-old Peter Wang
18-year-old Meadow Pollack (left)

Student Jaime Guttenberg

Photo Credit: Facebook 

Student Martin Duque

Photo Credit: Martin Duque/GoFundMe

17-year-old student Nick Dworet

Photo Credit: Instagram 

Football coach Aaron Feis.

Photo Credit: MSDfootball.com

16-year-old student Carmen Schentrup

Student Joaquin Oliver

Photo Credit: Facebook

Student Luke Hoyer

Photo Credit: Facebook 

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Daniel Duff, 14, a freshman, returned to Stoneman Douglas on Sunday for an orientation in his fourth-period drama class. He said being back on the campus and talking with teachers has reassured him.

"I wasn’t too sure about going back," he said, but added that orientation had made him "more ready."

Duff said teachers told him that students would initially take eight 20-minute classes and that each session would focus on discussing the incidents on Feb. 14 and healing. Duff said he was told classes would not immediately go back to the standard curriculum.

Debbie Duff, Daniel's mother, said she doesn't feel anxious "at all" about her son returning to Stoneman Douglas, but said she anticipates it might be an emotional day for the students. She said the teachers and staff have worked hard to reach out to students through email and texts in the days they've been away and are continuing to make the transition as smooth as possible.

"I don’t have any worries about our school feeling unsafe," Debbie Duff said. "I have overheard some people say they don’t want to go back because they don’t feel safe. That’s not my concern."

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Reaction to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida
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Reaction to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida

**Click through the following slides to see how lawmakers and well-known figures responded to the shooting on February 14, 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.**

(John McCall/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)

So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavi… https://t.co/3mSYrtTng6
We are grieving with Parkland. But we are not powerless. Caring for our kids is our first job. And until we can hon… https://t.co/LWGSkzRapH
No words, no actions, no laws are enough until we end this epidemic of school shootings in our country. My heart is… https://t.co/tjXGNhDN4e
My heart is broken again — this time for the victims of the Parkland school shooting, and the families whose childr… https://t.co/cZcyDaUIUV
My heart is heavy over the school shooting in Florida. Keeping all affected in my thoughts & prayers.
April 16, 2007, was the worst day of my life—when 32 people were shot and killed at Virginia Tech. Nearly 11 years… https://t.co/c3cBLo8HKF
Imagine your child never coming home from school. Then imagine having to tell that story to every new person you me… https://t.co/hbl4tRBsig
Don't tell me tomorrow isn't the appropriate time to debate gun violence. If you're a political leader doing nothin… https://t.co/iLM5dP8YW7
I am at a loss for what more to say. I grieve with the families in Parkland today. I grieve with the families acros… https://t.co/PaYjuPSkw8
Heard the word “tragedy” 100 times already about the school shooting - not really, by the classical definition: tra… https://t.co/asfO6NFmkz
Praying for the innocent lives lost, their families and the Parkland, Florida community in the wake of today’s unspeakable tragedy.
Broward school shooting--There will be prayers from Blabbermouth Don, Pence the Grinch, and their rightwing cohorts… https://t.co/rfySOFaB6X
Another senseless tragedy at an American school. My heart is with the victims and their families. When will we wake… https://t.co/QFLOKCDwZU
Praying for everyone at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Just spoke with Broward Undersheriff to ensure they h… https://t.co/lXBLWVHVCS
Sending my love to #parkland. #guncontrol #policyandchange https://t.co/lGnYTytBfm
Just spoke with @POTUS about shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. My thoughts and prayers are with the… https://t.co/Lum03FQg79
The accounts from today's school shooting in Parkland, Florida strike fear into all Americans. Is it safe to send o… https://t.co/6gbokHm4j2
We owe it to our children and our teachers to keep them safe while at school. Prayers won't do this: action will. C… https://t.co/0KGNfJSour
Sen. Chris Murphy addresses Florida school shooting on Senate floor: "Let me just note once again for my colleagues… https://t.co/sZEKbUPvqY
Heartbroken over the news of another school shooting. This is the 18th in 45 days of 2018. Students & teachers shou… https://t.co/MLgvZc3eFq
Yeah, it’s pretty rough to talk about shootings right after they happen. I know if someone was burning down house… https://t.co/eFbx9wtHlJ
I’m horrified by the reports coming from Parkland, Florida. Please take a moment to pray for the victims and first… https://t.co/t0TqSWZZVM
Relieved that the shooter is in custody. Praying for the victims and their families during this harrowing experien… https://t.co/I4BQ1bGscQ
Please join me in praying for the students, faculty, and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, as well as… https://t.co/dlvULnKn6E
It’s so easy these days to just scroll by a story like this. But this is developing and we should pay attention. Th… https://t.co/RgxgC5ZEuj
Devastating news from Florida. As further details emerge, join me in praying for everyone at Marjory Stoneman Dougl… https://t.co/5jrawYUYSq
My heart deeply hurts for the children and their families in South Florida that are going through a living hell. T… https://t.co/AipSSV7rM0
Another school shooting. Sad. Prayers to the families #ParklandShooting
Just reading about the shooting at the High School in Parkland, Florida. Thoughts & prayers with all those affecte… https://t.co/OWtOUJgBhx
As we send our thoughts & prayers to the people of Parkland, Florida how about we, the people & govt of America, ac… https://t.co/rR8HFlnZeg
My prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting. No child, teacher or an… https://t.co/RFJxgM1jhm
We have to do more to protect our children our teachers our families our people, no Matter what ! 🙏🇺🇸
We’ve been praying. It’s time to work. It’s time to change. Faith + works. Prayer + action. https://t.co/J5e2Y0DL8i
Prayers to everyone in Parkland Florida 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻
If people can blame drug dealers for the drug problem then we can blame the @NRA for the mass shooting problem.
Today is the day that inevitably comes when your prayers don't do anything to prevent it, but your vote might. https://t.co/1HBkioPDcA
These lawmakers took the most money $$ from the @NRA https://t.co/TzJtZ5lgMq
Praying for all impacted by the horrific shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward, especially th… https://t.co/Qe8PhyTev4
My heart goes out to the victims who were killed or injured, and their families, in the school shooting in Florida.
If people can blame drug dealers for the drug problem then we can blame the @NRA for the mass shooting problem.
Our prayers go out to the families and friends of victims in Florida.
My heart goes out to all those affected by the shooting in Florida. I am praying for these precious children and th… https://t.co/3oPyygSjaq
My heart breaks again today at news of the school shooting in Florida. It's long past time for action to stop the g… https://t.co/w0KCn7RYu7
Lots of people lamenting "nothing will change" today. That's what people said before the Montgomery boycott. Th… https://t.co/uflj5KzeBL
As we rise this morning let us pray for the victims and families of this horrific tragedy that has fallen on our co… https://t.co/GC2rrpU3Bs
Our community has suffered devastating tragedy. We lost sons, daughters, teachers, coaches, friends, neighbors, bro… https://t.co/gbaIaUQlKw
Prayers without accordant action are silent lies told to oneself, heard by no God, amounting to nothing. Action is… https://t.co/6nscffCxJ4
Like thousands in South Florida, we sent the boys to school in Broward County this morning... there are no words to… https://t.co/wsVhErOoHb
Just heard the tragic news about Florida. My heart breaks for the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.… https://t.co/0fHsqfWGky
Our hearts are shattered by the terrible news about Parkland… love you so so much Florida ❤️
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