Bend-La Pine School Board speaks on tragedy

Members thank first responders, Bend HS staff

School board speaks on Bend HS

BEND, Ore. - The Bend-La Pine School Board met Tuesday night for the first time since a suicide at Bend High School Friday afternoon, offering a statement of sympathy for those affected and praise for staff and  first responders.

"Our hearts go out to all the students, staff, family and community members affected by the tragedy at Bend Senior High," board Chair Cheri Helt said at the close of a day that saw thousands in support of the school across the region don the Bend High colors of blue and gold.

Helt went on to thank staff, first responders and the crisis teams for their efforts.

"On behalf of the entire board, we want to thank you and tell you that we are proud of all you have done for our students," Helt said.

Superintendent Ron Wilkinson says debriefings with staff have begun to wrap up. In the coming days, the district will meet with Bend police.

"Part of the debriefing process is, what could be different on our campuses that would have avoided the situation?" Wilkinson said.

He said it's going to take time before life goes back to normal for students at the high school.

"Today was a little bit back closer to normal, and hopefully each day we keep moving in that direction," Wilkinson said.

Friday afternoon, a Bend High School student shot and killed himself in a modular classroom amid other students, bringing police and medics rushing to the scene as the school was placed in lockdown for several hours.

"When a student takes his own life in this manner, it's even more tragic, because we all ask the question, why?" Wilkinson said. "You're not supposed to have those crises, but the process in dealing them when the time came went pretty much the way it's intended to be."

He says school security already was being looked at before Friday's events, saying the district will be working with an outside company to look at what can be done to better protect students.

"That process hadn't started yet," Wilkinson said. "We were in the processes of arranging for the contractor to do that for us."

Moving forward, he says, they will be looking at ways to try to keep this from happening in the future.

"How do we make sure that others who may know there's a concern, that they feel comfortable when reporting those, or at least calling for help when they need it?" Wilkinson said.

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