March for Our Lives

By Micheal Rios

During the chilly spring morning of Saturday, March 24, a wave of warmth came over a group of twenty Tulalip community members as they navigated the streets of Washington, D.C. to join in the March for Our Lives. Reaching their destination, 12th and Pennsylvania, the group found their wave of warmth connect with a powerful tide of uncompromising encouragement and spiritual healing.

The youth-led and student organized March for Our Lives isn’t an anti-gun rally. It is an anti-gun violence and pro-gun law reform rally participated in by hundreds of thousands of students, teachers and families who marched in front of the U.S. Capital Building. Marchers demanded their lives and safety become a priority by passing legislation and school safety measures that make a significant impact on ending gun violence and mass shootings, especially in schools.

According to its mission statement, March for Our Lives is led by students across the country who will no longer risk their lives waiting for someone else to take action to stop the epidemic of mass school shootings that has become all too familiar. In the tragic wake of the seventeen lives brutally cut short at a Florida high school, the time is now to talk about gun law reform.

School safety is not a political issue. There cannot be two sides to doing everything in our power to ensure the lives and futures of children who are at risk of dying when they should be learning, playing, and growing. The mission and focus of March for Our Lives is to demand that a comprehensive and effective bill be immediately brought before Congress to address these gun issues. No special interest group, no political agenda is more critical than timely passage of legislation to effectively address the gun violence issues that are rampant in our country.

With over 600 sister marches taking place nationwide and millions estimated to have participated, the collective voice of the March for Our Lives movement was received loud and clear. More importantly, for the Tulalip group in D.C., the march yielded an opportunity to have the voice of victims and survivors of the Marysville Pilchuck High School shooting be heard.

Lahneen Fryberg, Denise Hatch-Anderson and Lavina Phillips, mothers of Marysville Pilchuck shooting victims, showed great strength by giving voice to their children during March for Our Lives.

Lahneen Fryberg, mother of MPHS shooting victim Andrew Fryberg, attended the march with her three daughters, Tanisha, Josephine, and Leila.

“My Andrew, along with many others taken too soon by gun violence, will have a voice today!” said Lahneen prior to the march. She shared her son’s story with a news crew where she repeatedly stated she was accompanied in the march by her angel, Andrew, and that her family couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be in D.C. to honor him.

Lavina Phillips, mother of MPHS shooting victim Shaylee Chuckulnaskit, made the D.C. trip with her children, Shania, Chaska, Keenan and Caleb. March for Our Lives was even more impactful for Lavina as it came just two day before Shaylee’s 18th birthday.

“Super blessed to be able to attend the March for Our Lives event,” said Lavina. “I was surprised when asked to attend. The dates they gave me, what it was for, then knowing Shay’s birthday is on March 26th. I took it all in as a sign from my girl…she wanted us to go, represent and celebrate her life on her birthday. I’m very thankful for everybody that was here with us and stood with us. It was a very emotional few days, but sometimes you have to let it out. Tried my hardest to hold it in because that’s what I do, but when you can’t stop the tears you have to let them flow. This whole experience was healing for my family and I’ve very proud of my daughter, Shania, for telling her story at the march. She talked to so many reporters, she wouldn’t let her sister be forgotten.”

For Denise Hatch-Anderson, mother of MPHS survivor Nate Hatch, she went through a gauntlet of emotions being her child survived the shooting, but is forever changed as a result. Surrounded by parents like herself at the march, Denise found strength and a new understanding that she isn’t alone as a parent of a mass shooting survivor.

“This whole experience has been overwhelming with emotions, but as a mother of a survivor of a school shooting, I walked away not feeling so alone in this situation,” reflected Denise on her march experience. “I had the opportunity to meet other mothers of survivors and I received some answers to question I’ve longed to ask another. My heart broke again telling the story, but in the end I grew stronger from this trip. I healed in ways I needed to and now that my son is in a place of healing I feel like this journey has made us both spiritually stronger. I can’t thank the Tribe enough, especially Theresa Sheldon for never giving up on us moms and families effected by 10-24-14.  The pain will always be there among us all, but we get stronger everyday with the help of others.”

Seventeen-year-old Keryn Parks was in the cafeteria, sitting at the ill-fated table that was center to the MPHS shooting. Keryn participated in March for Our Lives in honor of her lost loves ones and to advocate for gun law reform to prevent more school shootings from occurring.

“The March for Our Lives meant a lot to me because it not only recognizes my friends and family I lost on 10/24/14, but also all the other people that have been taken from their families due to gun violence,” stated Keryn after an emotional day marching in front of the Capital Building. “The emotion and feeling from walking in the march was surreal…. I know our angels were with us every step of the way. It was such a great experience. It was heartwarming, but also so devastating.

“Our community and these families traveled all this way because they have been grieving for three and a half years. Throughout those years, shootings have occurred in schools, concerts, malls, corner stores, and clubs, everywhere really; these shootings have become normal. It hurts to know that our country hasn’t done anything to help these families heal, or these children and students around the nation feel safe, and not have to worry if someone might have a firearm. It is terrifying, but it’s the truth.”

Also the truth, the sun shined onto March for Our Lives supporters who gathered with a unifying mission to end gun violence and prevent school shootings. The Tulalip group showed such fierce strength and determination by giving voice to the victims of the MPHS shooting, not allowing their loved ones to be forgotten.

As sprits soared and healing found the hearts of those who needed it, each step taken in the march was a reminder that the truth cannot be silenced. Gun violence and school shootings are preventable. Those in power who are disbelievers in that sentiment just needed to look out their Capital Hill office windows, onto the hundreds of thousands of who demonstrated how powerful the people are when working together with common goals.

“What was beautiful to see from the youth is that they have been able to connect the dots between all the various forms of violence and not placing any sort of value hierarchy on those experiences,” said Matt Remle, Native Liaison for Marysville School District, who supported the mothers and the families during the March for Our Lives. “Their movement isn’t just about school shootings, but about addressing all forms of violence and abuse. That’s powerful. Sharing in such a truly historic occasion was good medicine for all our spirits.”

Tribe and district work to help heal the community

 

A wave of support offered in the wake of the MPHS shooting

 

Photo/Niki Cleary

Photo/Niki Cleary

 

By Niki Cleary, Tulalip News 

Immediately following the MPHS shooting, crisis management teams from around the nation and local, mobilized. Cheri Lovre, Executive Director of the Crisis Management Institute was one of them. She specializes in helping communities deal with the aftermath of school shootings and similar tragedies. She spoke at a November 5th, trauma recovery working session between the Tulalip Tribes and the Marysville School District.

November 5th was the first day students at MPHS got back to a typical class schedule following the October 24th tragedy in which a Tulalip boy, Jaylen Fryberg, opened fire on his close friends in the cafeteria, killing 4 of them and himself. Lovre acknowledged that while it was the first regular school day, it will be a long time before anyone affected by the tragedy feels “normal.”

“I followed Jaylen’s schedule,” she said, explaining that she attended all of his scheduled classes. “We had kids in classes so they could see where the empty desks were, the rooms where Jaylen’s desk would be empty. That meant there were times during the day where I was a in a class with four empty desks.”

Acknowledging the loss and the range of emotions is important for teachers, students and even the community, Lovre explained. Right now, many people, adults and children, are still processing the event.

“The first day back we acknowledge it. We told the kids that we don’t have to move today. There was only one class that asked for a new seating chart. I’ve seen more chaos in schools where a child simply died in a car accident than we had in this school,” she said.

“They [the kids] need to see everything unchanged,” she described artifacts of the shooter as well as the victims, photos, school projects that might hang on the walls, even name tags that might be posted, “Taking it down is part of a process.”

For the first day back, the District had 30 grief counselors and therapy dogs at MPHS, and two grief counselors in each other district school. Counselors in the schools are just a piece of the total recovery effort, Lovre said. Much of the healing, or lack of healing will happen at home.

“Kids can only recover as much as the adults in their lives,” she pointed out. “We can’t expect our kids to behave in a way that is not modeled. I’ll say it again. Kids can only get as well as the adults around them.”

Providing overall community outreach and opportunities for the community to grieve and express emotions is one way to move forward after tragedy. The district, Lovre said, may look into greater outreach in order to help kids heal as much as possible.

“In other places one of the things we created were one-stop-shops where parents who needed counseling [also had access to other services],” she recalled. “IF a parent had an issue with food stamps, they could talk with someone at the school and deal with that issue at the same time.”

It’s important to provide wraparound services because as stress adds up, people are less able to deal with it. She also illustrated the types of behavior, including suicides, that current trauma might trigger.  Trauma can also cause learning disabilities, which for a senior in their final year of high school, can derail their graduation goals.

“About 25% of your students have passing thoughts or have attempted suicide,” Lovre said. “Anytime the world is de-stabilized, it bumps those kids a little closer. You end up with kids sleeping in class because they can’t sleep at night, then they don’t have enough credits to graduate. The biochemistry of trauma leaves us on-edge, irritable and easily provoked.”

Every district deals with these issues differently. Lovre explained that the fact that Marysville School District is having the conversations so early, is a positive sign.

When asked about the mixed emotional reactions, Lovre said there is no right or wrong way to deal with the shooting. Some people will react with anger, some with grief, some will have no reaction at all, or will block out the violent act and focus on what came before. Still others will pass from one emotional reaction to another depending on the day, or even the moment. All are common reactions and none are abnormal.

“We often, particularly with a suicide or murder, get stuck on that moment and forget how that person lived. Part of my message is that we need to acknowledge that we lost someone in the fabric of our community. We need to acknowledge that we loved him. Some of you are conflicted about how you feel about him, you loved him but you cannot fathom the event that he did. It’s important that we say out loud that we have both feelings.”
Lovre continued, “There’s a difference between moving on and moving forward. I think it’s a wonderful thing that no one has vandalized the memorials to Jaylen. We are still in the honeymoon stage [of the crisis response]. But we’ll be tipping over that hill soon. The adults in your community will be moving to less tolerant places.

“We start getting into disillusionment, ‘I thought this was a good community, but I guess it’s not.’ Then we get into real anger, blame, and mistrust. Eventually it starts to come back up but it’s not [a straight line], there are dips. But, eventually, the days get better as a community, a family and for each person.”

Keep reading the See-Yaht-Sub and Tulalip News for updates on crisis relief efforts, where to receive counseling and how to help the Tulalip and Marysville communities move forward from tragedy.

Marysville School District receives dreamcatcher given to Columbine survivors

By Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

Marysville-Pilchuck High School Interim Assistant Principal Lori Stolee and Interim Co-Principal Deann Anguiano take possession of the dreamcatcher, Monday, Nov. 3, 2014, at Marysville School Board District office. (Tulalip News Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil)

Marysville-Pilchuck High School Interim Assistant Principal Lori Stolee and Interim Co-Principal Deann Anguiano take possession of the dreamcatcher, Monday, Nov. 3, 2014, at Marysville School Board District office.
(Tulalip News Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil)

MARYSVILLE – Following a tradition set by survivors of the Columbine High School shooting, the Marysville School District and Tulalip Tribes were presented a dreamcatcher symbolizing survival, on November 3.

During a modified school district board meeting, representatives from Sandy Hook Elementary and delegates from the Red Lake Nation in Minnesota gave the dreamcatcher and shared their story of healing.

The dreamcatcher was gifted to Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, following a shooting that left 13 people dead in 1999. It has since been passed onto other school districts that have experienced similar tragedies and evolved into emblem of healing for survivors.

John Oakgrove of the Little Thunderbirds Drum and Dance Troupe from Red Lake Minnesota made the trek from Red Lake as a sign of unity. Survivors of Columbine took the dreamcatcher to the Red Lake Reservation following a school shooting there in 2005 that left 10 people dead, including the 16-year-old shooter. Oakgrove has travelled to present the dreamcatcher since, taking along his children who sing honor songs for survivors as part of the healing process. He was there when the dreamcatcher was presented to Sandy Hook Elementary School officials in 2012 following the deaths

Tulalip Tribes council members Theresa Sheldon and Deborah Parker receive hand written notes from Stephanie Hope Smith from the Newtown Rotary Club, Monday, Nov. 3, 2014, at the Marysville School District Administrative offices. The notes were made by well wishers and given to the Sandy Hook Elementary School following the deaths of 26 children and adults from a 2012 shooting. (Tulalip News Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil)

Tulalip Tribes council members Theresa Sheldon and Deborah Parker receive hand written notes from Stephanie Hope Smith from the Newtown Rotary Club, Monday, Nov. 3, 2014, at the Marysville School District Administrative offices. The notes were made by well wishers and given to the Sandy Hook Elementary School following the deaths of 26 children and adults from a 2012 shooting. (Tulalip News Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil)

of 26 children and adults.

“I hate meeting people like this, but we came because we want to offer our support. We know what they are going through,” said Oakgrove.

Sandy Hook Elementary representatives Susan Connelly, Newtown Middle School counselor and Stephanie Hope Smith a member of the Newtown Rotary Club, spoke about the sobering baton that connects the schools.

“We are united in hope. I’m sorry we are united in grief. I’m sorry we have the experience and expertise to share,” said Smith.

“This plaque is more than just a dreamcatcher. It is made with such love. It is our hope that you should never have to pass it onto another community,” said Connelly.

Also present during the meeting was Marysville School District Superintendent Becky Berg and board members Chris Nation and Tom Albright, Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring, Marysville Police Chief Rick Smith, Marysville-Pilchuck High School Principals and Tulalip Tribes council members Deborah Parker and Theresa Sheldon.

 

 

Brandi N. Montreuil: 360-913-5402; bmontreuil@tulalipnews.com

2 communities healing together

Students support each during MSD community meeting, Sunday, October 26,2014, at Marysville-Pilchuck High School. Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

Students support each during MSD community meeting, Sunday, October 26,2014, at Marysville-Pilchuck High School.
Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

In the aftermath of  the tragic event on October 24, students of Marysville Pilchuck High School gather with friends and family

By Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

MARYSVILLE – Pictures taken from yesterday’s Marysville School District’s community meeting at Marysville Pilchuck High School show Marysville/Tulalip community’s grief.

Both communities joined together to discuss Friday’s tragic event and begin the healing process.

Speakers included Marysville School District Superintendent Dr. Becky Berg, Dr. Tom Albright, Tulalip Councilwoman Deborah Parker, Tulalip tribal member and MPHS wrestling coach Tony Hatch, Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring, Marysville Chief of Police Rick Smith, Pastor Andrew Munoz of Marysville Grove Church and Shari Lovre.

Following opening remarks from guest speakers students were able to meet separately with their peers and counselors. Mental health counselors and other specialists were on hand during the meeting to offer support to anyone who needed it. Parents were also meet separately to discuss concerns and ask questions.

During the event Tulalip tribal member Tony Hatch addressed the community asking for continued prayers for the families grieving, “We are really damaged right now. We’ve got families all over Tulalip and families all over Marysville who are grieving really hard right now. We can never understand why this may have happened, and we can’t understand that.”