MARYSVILLE — Some students plan private remembrance events on Monday, which will mark two years since the shootings at Marysville Pilchuck High School that took five young lives. No public ceremony is scheduled.
Milestones after traumatic events can bring shock, sadness and grief back to the surface, experts say. Those affected may feel caught off-guard.
October is a sensitive time for many in the community, Marysville School District spokeswoman Emily Wicks said. Any events scheduled for Monday are optional for students. Each campus within the district is choosing whether to organize something.
“This day is about providing the needed support for each student, and this support may be different for every student and every school,” Wicks said in a prepared statement.
Extra counselors and quiet rooms will be available that day for anyone who needs to talk or take a break, Wicks said. The district also provided teachers and other staff with guidelines on how to communicate with students about the shootings and how to encourage those who are hurting to speak with someone they trust.
On Oct. 24, 2015, a public walk around the high school and tulip planting was held, one year after Gia Soriano, Zoe Galasso, Shaylee Chuckulnaskit and Andrew Fryberg were shot and killed in the school’s former cafeteria. Nate Hatch was shot in the face. He survived.
Jaylen Fryberg, 15, also turned the gun on himself. He had taken the weapon from his father, Raymond Fryberg. The elder Fryberg was not allowed to own firearms because of a domestic-violence protection order.
Raymond Fryberg later was convicted of illegal gun possession. He remains in federal prison in California, with an expected release date in November 2017.
Another legal case is pending. Families of the victims have filed a lawsuit against the school district, Raymond Fryberg and a former substitute teacher who claimed she knew about the shooting in advance. Trial is scheduled for next year.
On campus, two years later, a new cafeteria is nearing completion. A community open house is likely this winter, Wicks said. So far, there is no identified funding for the demolition of the old building, she said.
After traumatic events, milestones are a time to check in with loved ones, said Dr. David Schonfeld, a pediatrician and crisis expert who has been working closely with Marysville schools. Students may have difficulty concentrating or they may find themselves thinking about what happened, he said. It’s important for friends and family to ask one another how they’re feeling. Not checking in for fear of upsetting someone can increase the sense of isolation, Schonfeld said.
Resources are available at the community website www.mtunited.org/resources.
Monday’s events also may cause people to reflect on unrelated losses and anxieties in their lives, Schonfeld said.
Even those who didn’t directly experience a shooting “still may feel somber or sad on that day, and there will be some people who don’t want to acknowledge the day for various reasons,” he said. “You have very diverse opinions sometimes and part of the challenge is to respect and honor that diversity of opinion without avoiding it.”
Marysville schools are trying to strike that balance by listening to students, he said. After trauma, the second year in some ways can be more difficult than the first. In the early months of tragedy, people come together and they are driven to make it through the first Thanksgiving or the first Christmas.
Some can be surprised when the passing of the second year is not much easier. It can make them wonder if they will hurt forever.
“These events have lifelong impact. You don’t forget them,” Schonfeld said. “You don’t go back in time to the way you were before. You adjust and you cope and you adapt to it but you carry it forward with you.”