Twenty years later: Community remembers Thurston tragedy

Students and staff gathered at the memorial held near the school for a moment of silence to reflect back on the last 20 years since the shooting.

Posted: May 21, 2018 7:23 PM
Updated: May 21, 2018 7:58 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- It’s been 20 years since the tragedy at Thurston High School that left a community devastated.

Students and staff gathered at the memorial held near the school for a moment of silence to reflect back on the last 20 years since the shooting.

Two people lost their lives, and 25 others were hurt in the shooting.

One Thurston High student told KEZI that it’s always tough this time of year, but there is a great sense of togetherness.

"I feel like I can relate to those families or empathize with the families,” said Wanda Portoghese. “I know what it's like to lose someone in your family, and I just want to be there and show."

In addition to the moment of silence, Elizabeth Harestad, a former Thurston High student put flowers, blue ribbon and a sign up on a fence that says "Thurston Strong" in front of the school.

"My hope is that when people saw them they would feel empowered, that they would feel strengthened,” said Harestad. “That they would remember we’re okay, we’re strong."

She said she was a junior at Thurston High in 1998 and was in the cafeteria when the shooting happened. Harestad said she will never forget what happened 20 years ago, but said they have come a long way and plan on pushing forward for a brighter future.


"It's a day for us to just reflect,” Harestad said. “So let it be about that. Let it be a day about reflecting and knowing how far we've come and how far we've survived and how strong we are as a community."

The community also planned a candlelight vigil to honor and remember those impacted in the Thurston tragedy and others throughout the country.

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