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12th Annual Coral Springs Teen Political Forum Was Chance For Students To Be #MSDStrong

Students from all five Coral Springs high schools, and from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, rehearse ahead of tonight's Teen Political Forum.
Caitie Switalski
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Thursday, more than 1,000 teens attended the 12th annual Teen Political Forum at the Coral Springs Center For The Arts. 

The program is a night for teens to ask local city officials and Broward County School Board members their questions. 



Milan Homan is a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and she’s been on the student steering committee for Teen Political Forum since  planning for the event began in October. She and the rest of the committee imagine most of the questions will be focused on student concerns about school safety. They made a lot of changes to the forum after the shooting at Stoneman Douglas that killed 17 people on Feb. 14. 

“The theme this year was supposed to be Star Wars. It was going to be really cool. We did the video and everything,” Homan said in rehearsals earlier Thursday. “But we just didn’t think it was right to keep that theme after everything happened. It’s just simple and powerful, MSD Strong.”

Although the event changed course after the shooting, students from all five high schools in Coral Springs, as well as Stoneman Douglas, are still the ones running it with the city of Coral Springs. But any high schoolers could participate. 

Abelardo Riojas is a senior at Coral Springs Charter School. He said the organizing students wanted to reflect how the teen community here has changed too since the shooting. 

“The day after, everybody just walked slower in the hallways. You could hear the air conditioning,” Riojas said. “The feeling of unity between all of the schools has grown immensely since the event.”

Coral Springs City Commissioner Larry Vignola is the city liaison who helps the students put on the forum, and he’s been doing it for the past six years.

“This group has been really really special, I think, in what they’ve been able to accomplish,” They really have a grasp and a feel for what’s been going on in the community."

This post has been updated to reflect the event has now passed.

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Caitie Switalski is a rising senior at the University of Florida. She's worked for WFSU-FM in Tallahassee as an intern and reporter. When she's in Gainesville for school, Caitie is an anchor and producer for local Morning Edition content at WUFT-FM, as well as a digital editor for the station's website. Her favorite stories are politically driven, about how politicians, laws and policies effect local communities. Once she graduates with a dual degree in Journalism and English,Caitiehopes to make a career continuing to report and produce for NPR stations in the sunshine state. When she's not following what's happening with changing laws, you can catchCaitielounging in local coffee shops, at the beach, or watching Love Actually for the hundredth time.