Nearly three months after tragedy struck RHS, students return to a freshly upgraded space

Photo Credit: OUTLOOK PHOTO: LISA K. ANDERSON - In the heart of the renovated gym lobby at Reynolds High School is the Raider mascot in front of a 12-screen media wall. Trophy cases with school memorabilia line the entryway.

Reynolds High School students never had a last day of school.

Following the devastating June 10 shooting, district officials hope renovations to the gym complex will help students make a fresh start on the first day of the new school year.

Crews worked around the clock this summer to renovate the school’s gym lobby, locker rooms and restrooms — the site where 15-year-old freshman Jared Padgett gunned down a classmate and grazed teacher Todd Rispler with a bullet before shooting himself in a restroom nearly three months ago.

School board members already had approved renovations of the locker rooms before the shooting that killed freshman Emilio Hoffman, 14. In the aftermath of the shooting, district officials sought to expand those renovations, ensuring students returned to a fresh space.

"It's an exciting change — something new to focus on," said Tricia Flynn, a parent who toured the space Wednesday, Aug. 27.

In the renovated gym lobby, students are greeted by sleek trophy cases filled with Raiders memorabilia such as OSAA plaques and letterman jackets.

The displays hearken to the early days of the school and honor its history.

At the center of the lobby is a large image of the Reynolds Raider mascot, leading up to a media wall with 12 rotating screens that can display schedules, photos, videos and special events.

Entrances have been upgraded with security doors.

Photo Credit: OUTLOOK PHOTO: LISA K. ANDERSON - Families visited the freshly upgraded gym complex during an open house Wednesday, Aug. 27. The lobby, locker rooms and restrooms were remodeled.

“It definitely makes you feel better about which school you’re going to,” said Chase Strickland, a junior who visited the gym open house.

Superintendent Linda Florence said the total cost of the project has not been determined yet, and that the renovations are 95 percent complete.

Renovations were made possible by community donations of money, materials and labor. Next week, new lockers are expected to arrive within the first couple days of school.

The district worked closely with Principal Architect Deb France of Oh Planning & Design to modernize Reynolds’ gym complex.

“It was a very emotional process to work on this project,” France said. “We wanted to do something special, and we were up for the challenge.”

Reynolds Principal Wade Bakley commended the community for its support the past couple months and said he was proud of how his staff handled last June’s tragedy.

He said the shooting was an ongoing topic to learn from and hoped that students, staff and community members could galvanize together this fall.

“This event is what we needed — it’s a positive start,” Bakely said of the gym open house.

During the summer, a soccer tournament was held in Emilio Hoffman’s memory. Tributes to Hoffman and his family have continued to flow in over the past several months.

District officials said there are plans to create a school tribute memorializing the events of June 10. For now, the focus is on moving students forward.

“It’s amazing,” said Braxton Wilson, a junior. “I feel like I’m in a new school. I didn’t recognize it. It’s so cool what they’ve done.”

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