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'We are Reynolds'

Three months after tragedy struck, students return to RHS

Photo Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: DARLYN CHESTER - Community members rallied with banners, signs and balloons to welcome back Reynolds High School students Friday.

Parents, grandparents, leaders and community members lined the streets of Cherry Park Road early Friday morning, offering messages of hope and encouragement to returning Reynolds High School students.

“We are Reynolds,” a banner over the high school read, unifying the school just three months after the June 10 shooting that left 14-year-old freshman Emilio Hoffman dead.

“I want today to be about everyone feeling safe on their first day back,” said Assistant Principal John Olsen, addressing the senior class.

Olsen said the events of June impact everyone differently, and told students the school absolutely had the support of teachers, friends and counselors to help them if they felt triggered by a memory such as the intercom system or school bells.

Photo Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: DARLYN CHESTER - Assistant Principal John Olsen addresses the Reynolds senior class their first morning back to school.

At an early morning press conference, Principal Wade Bakley said he and the Reynolds staff were “very, very ready” for the start of school. Superintendent Linda Florence described the overwhelming amount of support the district had received since the shooting.

One of those pillars of support the past three months has been the Trauma Intervention Program of Portland/Vancouver (TIP).

Executive Director June Vining and one of her managers were on their way from Troutdale to West Linn Tuesday, June 10, when they first heard about the shooting.

They hadn't even made it out of the city before they were surrounded by emergency vehicles responding to the scene.

TIP volunteers poured into the church across from Reynolds and the Wood Village Fred Meyer parking lot, where families were reunited.

Photo Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: REYNOLDS SCHOOL DISTRICT - Happy thoughts continue to pour in for Reynolds High School students and staff.

During the past three months, TIP volunteers spent 800 hours working with the Reynolds community. They were there when students retrieved their backpacks and as students returned for sports practices throughout the summer.

A Troutdale resident and mother of three grown Reynolds graduates, Vining said the shooting wasn’t just too close to home — it was home. She said TIP — which is joined by an adorable white lab named Hyacinth — will continue to support students, staff and community members.

“Kids want to get back to business, but they also don’t want to forget,” Vining said. “This is part of our school’s history, but it’s not going to define us. Now we take a breath, feel the love and take the next step in knowing that we’re safe and supported by not just our families but our whole Reynolds community.”

The postcard project launched by grandmother Susan Bowker continued to pour happy thoughts into Reynolds High Friday morning with messages from all over the country and Canada.

“Welcome back!” one read. “You are kind, smart, important, beautiful and LOVED. Hope you have a fantastic and totally awesome school year! With love.”

Share your support

To send in a happy thought or favorite inspirational verse to Reynolds students, mail a postcard to HOPE, P.O. Box 9, Troutdale, 97060.

Reynolds School District is also seeking more volunteers for its series of day-long Challenge Day trainings this September at the high school and middle schools.

Learn more at https://www.reynolds.k12.or.us/district


Photo Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: REYNOLDS SCHOOL DISTRICT - This is one of the postcards sent in for Reynolds students from around the country and Canada. The postcard project was launched by grandmother Susan Bowker.

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