February 6, 1996 in Nation/World

Students Brave Both Memories, Media Children Return To Frontier Junior High 3 Days After Deadly Attack

Carla K. Johnson Staff writer
 

Students walked past a phalanx of reporters and police officers to return to Frontier Junior High on Monday, three days after two classmates and a teacher died in the worst school-related violence in state history.

“It’s hard to go back in there,” said eighth-grader Juan Cardenas, who carried his Bible and a “Judge Jesus” prayer candle in a plastic bag.

“We used to see (the victims) all the time. Now we ain’t going to be seeing them.”

Some parents walked their children into the school, hugging them all the way. One mother kept her son home, saying she would consider switching him to a private school.

“The school has been wonderful, but I’d like him to be in a smaller environment,” said Gloria Robbins.

Robbins said she didn’t know whether her son was safe for a couple of hours Friday after a shooting victim had been brought to the emergency room where she works.

One hundred of the school’s 533 students were absent Monday.

All faculty members were present except for a teacher whose spouse had surgery previously scheduled and Vice Principal Steve Caires, whose wife, Leona, died in the gunfire.

Fifteen counselors, some on loan from other agencies, assisted at the school.

“The kids spent a lot of time talking to each other,” said Moses Lake School District spokesman P.J. DeBenedetti.

“We gave them an opportunity to write letters to the victims. They had the opportunity to write on large sheets of paper how they were feeling.”

Students also could visit the math classroom where 14-year-old Barry Loukaitis is accused of opening fire Friday.

Several counselors were stationed in the room.

School officials will let students who witnessed the crime help decide what to do with that room in the long run.

Staff and students seemed to gain strength from each other, Principal Lisa Hanson said at an afternoon news conference.

“While they were drained at the end of the day, the tension seemed to ease as the day went on,” she said.

All Moses Lake public schools opened two hours late to give staff members a chance to meet and discuss how they would deal with students’ questions and grief.

Four police officers helped at Frontier Junior High, near the center of town. Police kept reporters off school property.

“One of the things students were upset about was the media,” DeBenedetti said. “The children were annoyed at being stopped on the street. They thought that was extremely insensitive on the part of the media, that what they needed to do was more important than the kids’ healing.”

Dolores Cardenas said she had second thoughts before dropping her son off Monday morning at the school.

The sight of balloons and candles on a makeshift shrine on the school’s front steps shook her with grief and made her want to take Juan home.

“But he said, ‘Mom, I’m going to have to go sooner or later.’ So I let him go.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: SERVICES Services scheduled for those killed in last week’s shootings at Frontier Junior High include: Manuel Vela. Funeral service will be at 10 a.m. today at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in Moses Lake. Arnold Fritz. Viewing will be from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Chapel of Memories in Moses Lake. Memorial service will be at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Moses Lake. Leona Caires. Funeral Mass will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at St. Pius Catholic Church in Coeur d’Alene. A final rosary is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday at Yates Funeral Home. All victims. A community memorial service will be held at Big Bend Community College Gymnasium on Sunday at 4 p.m. The service is sponsored by the Moses Lake Ministerial Association, Moses Lake School District, the Hispanic Community Forum and the City of Moses Lake. Contributions. The Frontier Junior High Memorial Fund has been established for victims’ families through First Interstate Bank, P.O. Box 1116, Moses Lake, 98837.

This sidebar appeared with the story: SERVICES Services scheduled for those killed in last week’s shootings at Frontier Junior High include: Manuel Vela. Funeral service will be at 10 a.m. today at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in Moses Lake. Arnold Fritz. Viewing will be from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Chapel of Memories in Moses Lake. Memorial service will be at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Moses Lake. Leona Caires. Funeral Mass will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at St. Pius Catholic Church in Coeur d’Alene. A final rosary is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday at Yates Funeral Home. All victims. A community memorial service will be held at Big Bend Community College Gymnasium on Sunday at 4 p.m. The service is sponsored by the Moses Lake Ministerial Association, Moses Lake School District, the Hispanic Community Forum and the City of Moses Lake. Contributions. The Frontier Junior High Memorial Fund has been established for victims’ families through First Interstate Bank, P.O. Box 1116, Moses Lake, 98837.


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