SOUTHLAKE, Texas – Katie Silverman’s school colors are Southlake Carroll’s trademark green, white and black, but on graduation night, she planned to also wear some burgundy and silver to honor the victims of the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.
The 18-year-old is part of the 712 seniors who graduated Friday at Carroll’s Dragon Stadium. Her commencement comes as she embraces a personal calling to fight for gun reform and safer schools – activism inspired by 17 lost lives in Parkland, Fla., where she once lived.
“Four seniors died,” said Silverman, who wore a Stoneman Douglas graduation pin during her commencement. “That was really shocking – two of which were my friends.”
Silverman attended middle school with Meadow Pollack and Joaquin Oliver, both of whom were shot and killed by the gunman.
Silverman’s connections to Florida moved her to take part in a school walkout, March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C., and a rally in downtown Dallas near the National Rifle Association’s convention even as she juggled school work. While she has been described as quiet, she has transformed into an outspoken activist, going before elected leaders and taking media interviews.
“She has always been a quiet activist,” said her mother, Lisa Silverman. “Parkland has really changed her from an introvert to now wanting to change the world.”
Nationwide, as students of Stoneman Douglas took center stage to push for gun reform, other young people were inspired to stand up, too. Students in Tarrant County – a large urban center described in recent years as “Big Red” because of its strong conservative political base – also joined the movement.
Student activists stepped into the national discussion on gun reform and school security, including high school seniors who promise to continue this work in college or the workforce.
Before starting classes at the University of Texas at Dallas, Silverman heads back to Florida where she planned to attend the Stoneman Douglas graduation ceremony on Sunday. The trip is a graduation present from her parents, who have seen how focused Silverman has become in her journey to push for safer schools.
“She was crying when we told her what we planned as there was nowhere she would rather be on June 3 than with her Parkland friends,” said Lisa Silverman.
‘Our outrage will not fade’
In the days after the Parkland shooting, students in Texas began getting involved. They started Twitter accounts, they wore orange as a symbol for gun reform and they planned walkouts. Student activists emerged in cities, suburbs and towns, including Fort Worth, Southlake and even Alpine in West Texas.