Friends and youth team coached by Bowe Cleveland sign messages of support.
The Rec lent is lending its support to efforts aimed at helping the community heal in the aftermath of the campus shooting that shocked the community.
Administrators at the West Side Recreation and Park District opened their facilities on Cascade Place free to the entire community to provide an escape from the tension and anxiety that has gripped the town and especially Taft High School.
Part of the plan included turning an activity room into an arena for expressions of well wishes for victim Bowe Cleveland and the three courageous adults – science teacher Ryan Heber and campus supervisors Kim Fields and Mary Miller – who used words to disarm the shooter.
And, the Taft High varsity boys' basketball team stepped in Saturday morning to put on a clinic for the youth basketball team Cleveland coaches.
Kai Schoneweis, a Taft College student who is Cleveland's assistant coach, talked about his friend.
"He's the kind of person who makes sure everything is done right," he said. "He never uses a harsh word. He's so much bigger than the kids, but he's so gentle with them."
(Cleveland is 6-foot-2 and weighs about 280 pounds.)
Schoneweis agreed with efforts to bring about healing. He wants everyone to move forward but not forget.
"It's not good to dwell on the bad stuff – on what happened," he said. "We need to forgive the bad things without forgetting what happened."
As he watched the Wildcat basketball team put the Knicks through a spirited clinic, he clutched a poster on which he and his players wrote messages to their coach, who recovers in the intensive care unit at Kern Medical Center after having surgery.
While the clinic was going on, students milled around in the nearby activity room using brightly colored felt pens to write messages on posters wishing Cleveland a speedy recover and praising Heber, Fields and Miller.
Some of the posters had photos.
The overriding theme of the posters dedicated to Cleveland focused on his fascination with superhero Spiderman.
One read: "Stan Lee meet Bowe, Taft's Spiderman!" Lee is the creator of the superhero.
"Taft Hero" was the title on posters directed at Heber, Fields and Miller.
"That's the real story here," Schoneweis said.
As each poster filled with messages, it was hung on the wall.
It marked the first time that Miller had publicly joined the hero's club. In the immediate aftermath of the shooting only Heber and Fields were recognized, but students who were there in the classroom with Cleveland say Miller played a role too.
Steven Gee, one of the Wildcat basketball players helping with the clinic and one of the students in the line of fire in that classroom, acknowledged Miller's contribution in preventing further bloodshed.
He said investigators from the FBI and sheriff's department who interrogated each of the 28 students in Heber's earth science class told them not to talk publicly about what happened.
A senior, Gee has signed a letter of intent to play baseball at Cal State Bakersfield.