TROUTDALE, Ore. – Seniors wore ribbons and observed a moment of silence to honor their fallen peer during a Thursday graduation ceremony, just two days after a school shooting brought mayhem and tragedy to Reynolds High School.
Reynolds High School freshman Jared Padgett came to school Tuesday with an AR-15-style rifle and a semi-automatic handgun and allegedly shot and killed fellow freshman Emilio Hoffman.
The last day of classes and final exams were canceled after the incident, as the nation grappled with an epidemic of armed rampages on campuses since the 2013 Sandy Hook massacre.
On Thursday, 467 Reynolds students gathered for their graduation ceremony at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland's Rose Quarter.
The celebration was dampened by the tragic event but Student Body Association President Cole Bronson told KGW he wanted fellow graduates to feel a sense of accomplishment.
"Tonight is our night. Class of 2014," he said. "I'm going to feel excitement. This is a celebration and that is what's on our mind tonight."
Todd Rispler was among the teachers present in academic regalia. Rispler was shot by Padgett Tuesday morning, but went to the head office to initiate a lockdown.
On Thursday, Rispler's head stayed bowed as the moment of silence ended.
Principal Wade Bakley told students to honor their own accomplishments and to honor Hoffman.
"Please, celebrate loud," he said. "Celebrate proud. So all can hear, including Emilio."
Joshua Mitchell, Emilio's brother, was in the graduating class. In a stirring tribute, Mitchell wore Emilio's No. 29 jersey. Classmates cheered as he received his diploma.
KGW Reporter Pat Dooris, who spoke with some graduating seniors and talked Thursday afternoon about his process for reporting on these emotionally sensitive events.