'I want to heal': Teen opens up about returning to school after massacre

PHOTO: Stoneman Douglas High School student Samantha Grady speaks with ABC News.PlayABC News
WATCH Stoneman Douglas students share their mixed emotions about returning to class

A Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student heading back to classes today after the Valentine's Day mass shooting says she thinks going back to the site of the tragedy can be "a healing process."

"We're supposed to be safe at school," said Samantha Grady, a junior who was grazed by a bullet during the massacre at the Parkland, Florida school. "No one should walk in a room, and as soon as you walk in, [wonder], 'Where's my escape route?'"

"No one should really have that fear," she told ABC News' "Nightline" recently.

"I want to heal. That's just my goal," Grady said. "And, I want to remember my high school experience. Yes, there was tragedy, but I want to overcome it."

PHOTO: Students attend a prayer service at Parkridge Church in Coral Springs, Fla., a day after a mass shooting occurred at the nearby Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Feb. 15, 2018.Saul Martinez/The New York Times via Redux Pictures
Students attend a prayer service at Parkridge Church in Coral Springs, Fla., a day after a mass shooting occurred at the nearby Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Feb. 15, 2018.

PHOTO: A message about grief counseling appears on the electronic signboard at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School one day after a shooting at the school left 17 dead in Parkland, Fla. Feb. 15, 2018.Jonathan Drake/Reuters
A message about grief counseling appears on the electronic signboard at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School one day after a shooting at the school left 17 dead in Parkland, Fla. Feb. 15, 2018.

Grady said that although she is not formally a member of the #NeverAgain movement, she wants to see change.

"My hope is that background checks will be strengthened and more specific causes will be enacted, in those checks, so this incident never happens again," she said.

PHOTO: Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School staff, teachers and students return to school greeted by police and well wishers in Parkland, Fla., Feb. 28, 2018.
SLIDESHOW: Heartbreaking photos from the Parkland school shooting

Grady, who spoke to "Nightline" on Tuesday as she braced for her return to school today, is also grieving for her best friend, Helena Ramsay, who was one of 17 people killed in the shooting.

She said that while "it's normal" being at school, seeing other people with their close friends would likely remind her of that connection she lost. Grady said she spent much of her school day with Ramsay.

"Going throughout my day without that, it's something that I have to get used to," she said. "It's better to start sooner than wait until all of this emotion is all pent up."

Grady said that losing Ramsay had taught her to "appreciate the people who are here."

"You don't want to have any regrets," she said.

PHOTO: Candles that were placed on crosses still glow after last nights vigil for victims of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, at Pine Trail Park, Feb. 16, 2018, in Parkland, Fla. Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Candles that were placed on crosses still glow after last nights vigil for victims of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, at Pine Trail Park, Feb. 16, 2018, in Parkland, Fla.

Grady also opened up to "Nightline" about seeing another slain classmate, Nicholas Dworet, on the ground after he was shot.

After the shooter left, Grady said, "Nick was laying down next to me and someone told me to check his pulse."

"I did, but I already assumed he was, unfortunately, he died," she said. "But I checked it anyway. After that I called 911."

The police responded and she was escorted outside and told to run.

"I've never run more fast," she said.

Comments