Education

UT Dallas student: ‘My heart will always be with Parkland’

Katie Silverman, a student at the University of Texas at Dallas, remembered the victims of Parkland, Florida shooting by painting the Spirit Rocks at the university. The Spirit Rocks are big rocks that individuals students and student organizations can paint messages.
Katie Silverman, a student at the University of Texas at Dallas, remembered the victims of Parkland, Florida shooting by painting the Spirit Rocks at the university. The Spirit Rocks are big rocks that individuals students and student organizations can paint messages. Katie Silverman

The University of Texas at Dallas has a memorial to the victims of the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida thanks to student Katie Silverman.

Silverman, who graduated from Southlake’s Carroll Senior High School last year, has been pushing for gun reform and school safety since last year’s attack.

The tragedy touched too close to home for Silverman, who attended middle school with Meadow Pollack and Joaquin Oliver, both of whom were shot and killed by the gunman.

“Valentine’s Day will never be the same for so many,” Silverman told the Star-Telegram in a text message. “I’ve continuously asked myself what I’m going to do on that day. Ultimately I decided that I was going to paint the Spirit Rocks at my university.”

Silverman, who is majoring in political science, lived in Florida before moving to Southlake. Last year, she attended the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School graduation after her own graduation from Carroll Senior High School in Southlake.

Katie Silverman graduates from Southlake Carroll High School with memories of friends from her time in Parkland, Florida. Two of those friends died in the school shooting there. Instead of a party she will attend the graduation they would have had.

Silverman said “The Spirit Rocks” at UT Dallas are big rocks that individual students and student organizations can paint messages that announce events, celebrate accomplishments or offer support. She painted “MSD Strong” and “#NeverAgain” along with the names of all 17 victims.

“I am so sad that this happened and my heart will always be with Parkland,” Silverman said.

The 18-year-old student said Parkland changed her. She switched majors from neuroscience to political science and became politically active.

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.

NRA members stage a second amendment awareness counter-rally/protest after student the led Rally4Reform at Dallas City Hall Plaza Saturday morning.

In Fort Worth, the local March For Our Lives event drew thousands last spring.

She became a volunteer deputy voter registrar for Tarrant County and helped register people to vote. Over the summer, she was a panelist for the March For Our Lives Road to Change in Dallas. She was also a guest speaker for the Vote For Our Lives event at UT Dallas.

This April, Silverman plans to travel to Austin with the student group, Texas Rising, for an Advocacy Day.

“I strongly back comprehensive universal backgrounds checks and red flag laws. I will continue to support and fight for legislation that prevents tragedies like Parkland and Santa Fe,” Silverman said.

A red flag law would allow police or family to petition a state court for the removal of a fireman from a person who could pose a danger to him or herself or others.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Shelley Kofler talks with Odie Hitt of the Texas Rifle Association about gun access and school safety measures during the June 2018 Texas GOP Convention

This report contains material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram

Diane Smith, a graduate from the University of Texas at Austin, has been a reporter for the Star-Telegram since 1997. Smith, who has covered municipal government, immigration and education, has won multiple awards for reporting, most recently as part of a Star-Telegram team recognized by the Headliners Foundation of Texas for coverage of child abuse and Fort Worth’s Las Vegas Trail area.
  Comments