Celebrate and enjoy yourselves enthusiastically and loudly, because this is your night, Reynolds High School Principal Wade Bakley told Reynolds High Schools class of 2014 at Thursday nights graduation ceremony.
And cheer they did, despite the shadow that has hung over the school and community in the wake of Tuesday mornings tragic shootings at Reynolds High.
There was a moment of silence for Reynolds freshman Emilio Hoffman, who died Tuesday morning when fellow freshman Jared Padgett shot him and then wounded PE teacher Todd Rispler before turning the gun on himself.
Each graduate wore a small red ribbon in Emilios memory. Normally seniors arent allowed to wear ornamentation during graduation, one teacher remarked.
Later in the evening, the crowd erupted in cheers when graduating senior Joshua D. Mitchell, Emilios older brother, walked onto the stage at Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Joshua was wearing Emilios soccer jersey over his graduation gown and was carrying a picture of Emilio, which he raised high above his head. At the front of the stage, Joshua turned around to show the audience the back of the jersey No. 29. Everyone gave him a standing ovation.
The crowd also cheered when Rispler, who had raised the alarm about the shooter despite being wounded, walked out onto the floor with the other teachers.
Grazed by a bullet on his hip, Rispler had made his way to the office, where he was able to notify the administration, which then initiated an immediate lockdown, probably saving many lives.
For more graduation photos, see the Tuesday, June 17, issue of The Outlook.