RIGBY — Students returned to Rigby Middle School Tuesday amidst the memories of last week’s school shooting and subsequent lockdown.
To ensure that the return was a positive one, community members and students from across eastern Idaho visited the school to welcome back the middle schoolers. The community members displayed their love, strength and solidarity with the students through chalk art, posters or other artistic displays.
“It was a very tragic event that happened and we just felt we just needed to show a little love to Rigby,” Bonneville High School student Brock Wilde said.
Wilde and a couple of dozen other students from the Idaho Falls area made the drive before classes began to show their support through chalk and sticky notes with positive messages.
“Just to show support and love, I think is really important,” said Brenna Schwieder, another Bonneville High School student. “(It) shows that all the schools around the area are in support of each other.”
Last Thursday, officials say a sixth-grade girl allegedly opened fire at the middle school. Bullets hit two students and a custodian — leaving them with non-life-threatening injuries — before eighth-grade math teacher Krista Gneiting disarmed the student. All three victims, including the custodian Jim Wilson, have been released from Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center.
“I cry every time I see the signs from other schools and other towns it is just so awesome,” said Tiffany Clifford, a mother of a Rigby Middle School student. “It has helped my daughter a lot to see all the love and support from the surrounding communities.”
The decision to return to school Tuesday came after district officials, mental health professionals and school staff met last week. Jefferson County School District 251 Superindentent Chad Martin said in a letter to parents last week that returning to school “promotes the welfare of children and families,” because teachers, administrators, and staff play a role in helping students recover from traumatic events.
During remarks given over Facebook live Monday afternoon, Martin said in moments during and after the shooting he’s seen heroes and helpers that have helped Rigby rise in its “darkest hour to come together.”
While the future impacts of Thursday’s shooting are not fully known, the school plans to have extra counselors and law enforcement officers in the schools for the near future.
“I’m a little nervous,” Clifford said. “I know she (her daughter) will be safe, but I’m definitely a little anxious this morning. I hope that she does good and that she can get through this. I’m glad they are doing it together … I know they’ll do good. I know they’re strong, Rigby is strong.”