With many dressed in the school colors of red and white, the M-P community gathered Saturday to remember what’s been lost and to hold on to what remains.
Nate Hatch blended in with Marysville-Pilchuck students and community members as they all climbed onto the high school’s bleachers Saturday morning. Sitting with family and friends, he watched and listened as a moment of silence was observed at 10:39 a.m., and when many sang along as the loudspeakers played “Lean on Me.”
Hatch still bears the scars from Oct. 24, 2014, the day his cousin took out a gun in the school cafeteria and fatally shot four students and himself. Zoe Galasso, Gia Soriano, Shaylee Chuckulnaskit and Andrew Fryberg were killed.
Hatch, now 15, was the only survivor. His mother, Denise Hatch, said he’s doing well but will need additional surgeries on his jaw.
With many dressed in the school colors of red and white, hundreds from the M-P community gathered Saturday to remember what’s been lost and to hold on to what remains.
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Following a brief ceremony, the crowd went quiet at 10:39 a.m., the minute Jaylen Fryberg, a freshman, shot his friends.
Later, Hatch led the gathering on a “Walk of Strength” around the outside of the school and students planted red and white tulip bulbs in dirt beds next to the football field. Many wore “MP Strong” T-shirts. Others wore shirts and bandannas with photos of the victims. The Hatch family wore shirts that read “Nate Strong.”
The ceremony and walk were meant to bring those affected together, though students were encouraged to grieve in whatever way they felt was right, said district counselor Josh Webb.
“What is beneficial for students is what they feel is beneficial,” Webb said. “Some may go out of town, some may want to be social.”
Most of the relatives of the students who were killed said they weren’t planning on attending the memorial event. At least one family traveled out of the state.
In the week leading up to the one-year mark, some students and teachers said they were nervous about how they would feel on the actual day. Sophomore Bailey Nelson said the week was more difficult than she had anticipated.
“It’s rough, way worse than I thought it was going to be,” she said. “I don’t think there is anything you can do to prepare.”
Twelve counselors were at the school Friday in case students and teachers needed to talk, Webb said. There also were staff available in case any teacher needed to leave class for time to reflect. There were few absences, he said.
“I think there is a lot of anxiety the week leading up to it, and then they realize on that day, ‘Hey, I can still do this,’ ” Webb said.
The one-year mark also provided a sense, teacher Nate McClellan said, that the community can endure. “We made it this far, now we can keep going,” he said.
Nelson recalled students coming together in a similar way just after the shooting. They’ve all grown a lot since then, she said.
“It changed my world,” she said. “It’s changed my normal. But it can only get better.”