The email that landed in my inbox Thursday morning from Sabrina Fernandez was brief, polite, and painful.
Hi Ms. Cottle,
I’ve just been back to back funerals which is why I haven’t been able to get back to you. Is there any way I can answer all your questions via email by tonight or do you need it immediately?
Eighteen-year-old Fernandez is the student-body president of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida. She lives next door to my oldest friend and had graciously agreed to share insights on how she and her classmates are weathering the aftermath of the February 14 mass shooting—especially amid the national frenzy surrounding the #NeverAgain movement that some of the survivors launched to push for gun-law reform.
Fernandez’s week had been exactly as rough as you would imagine. Just eight days earlier, 17 of her classmates and teachers had been gunned down. That makes for an awful lot of funerals to attend, an awful lot of friends (and parents) to comfort, an awful lot of grieving to endure. Still, she didn’t want me to think she was ignoring me—or that she didn’t have anything to say.
Fernandez is not one of the high-profile teens leading the #NeverAgain charge in the media. “We’ve always had students more politically savvy than others, the faces of the #NeverAgain movement, [whom] I’m proud to call my fellow classmates,” she emailed me late Thursday night. “They were dedicated to making a difference prior to this and now more than ever.”