Local chaplain counsels students, parents after Reynolds High School shooting

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Chuck Boman has worked as a chaplain for more than 20 years, and didn't hesitate to jump into action when he was called to Reynolds High School.Chuck Boman has worked for long enough as a chaplain to know exactly what to look for when he arrives at the scene of a tragedy.

Blank stares. Vacant eyes. Aimless shuffling around the scene.

Boman, a West Linn resident who currently works as the police chaplain in West Linn, Lake Oswego, Milwaukie and Oregon City, was called to Reynolds High School earlier this month to help in the aftermath of a shooting that left two students — including the shooter — dead.

“Because I’ve been a chaplain for a long time, my job was to assist chaplains who might have had issues to deal with,” Boman said. “We were concerned with kids straggling around — if a kid had a blank stare, we wanted to engage them, so they don’t fall through the cracks.”

It was the last official day of school at Reynolds when Boman arrived, and returning students were tasked only with housekeeping duties: cleaning out their lockers, returning library books, checking in one last time with their teachers. Boman’s job was to watch the hallways and try to help anyone who looked to be in need.

“It ranged from very traumatized to kids who didn’t have a clue while it was happening,” Boman said. “Maybe one in ten kids had some kind of reaction that we thought, ‘We should have some conversation about this.’”

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Bowman was at Reynolds High School for two days, helping organize counseling and keeping an eye out for students in need.

Boman and his fellow chaplains were joined by representatives from the Red Cross, as well as the Trauma Interventions Programs (TIP) of Portland and the Multnomah County Department of Emergency Services. And beyond those resources, Boman also found ways to make use of the more familiar school staff members.

“It dawned on me that the kids all know the kitchen staff,” Boman said. “So I asked if they would be part of watching and seeing if a kid wasn’t acting normal.”

Boman returned the next day for more counseling at Reynolds Middle School — a service that was available for parents and children alike.

“We were trying to deal with the whole family,” Boman said.

Though he retired from his role as a pastor in Lake Oswego back in 2002, Boman decided to stay on as a chaplain. In the years since, he’s also served as a chaplain in West Linn, Oregon City and Milwaukie. He was involved after the shooting of Oregon City Reserve Officer Robert Lipke back in Nov. 2013, and most recently counseled family members after an accident on Petes Mountain Road that killed two West Linn teenagers.

“Over the years, I’ve had extensive training at all kinds of levels,” Boman said. “I’ve constantly engaged in education opportunities to maintain a certain level of certification.”

But even the best training doesn’t make it any easier to deal with such extreme trauma, and the goal was to simply help the young students return to some sense of normalcy before leaving for the summer.

“You have to be traumatized to come back to a scene that was very scary,” Boman said. “For a 14-year-old child, that could be very terrifying.

“We wanted to make sure parents knew the school was doing everything it could.”

By Patrick Malee
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