Students return to classes for first time since shooting of Bowe Cleveland
Taft Union High School students returned to campus today amid heavy security and prayer.
It was the first day back since last Thursday's shooting that left one student critically wounded, another facing life in prison and a campus coping with the unthinkable.
"Let us not dwell on this anymore than we need to," said senior Kayla Scheyler, who led the prayer as students and staff circled the Flag in front of the campus. "Let's go on ... happy that we have another day at our school."
The prayer called for healing and forgiveness.
The victim, Bowe Cleveland, remains in critical but stable condition at Kern Medical Center in Bakersfield where he underwent surgery for a shotgun wound to his chest.
The accused, Bryan Oliver, appeared in Kern County Superior Court yesterday and entered an innocent plea about seven hours after District Attorney Lisa Green said her office will try him as an adult.
He faces two counts of attempted murder and three counts of assault on a person with a firearm for allegedly shooting Cleveland and slightly wounding teacher Ryan Heber and targeting a second student.
Cleveland and Oliver are 16-year-old juniors.
Officers from the Taft City Police Dept. and the Taft substation of the Kern County Sheriff's Dept. stood by as classes resumed. Students were directed to enter the campus only through the main entrance on Wildcat Way.
Senior Deputy Kevin George said he was told he would be on duty at the school all week.
The week is expected to be a difficult one for students and staff.
"We're hanging in there," said Principal Marilyn Brown.
She said grief counselors are on duty along with therapy dogs sent from Therapy Dogs International.
"We have counselors from Optimal Hospice and the Kern County Superintendent of Schools office," she said. "We've had offers of help from all over. It's been amazing."
Nick Wright is one of those.
He is a veteran grief counselor who has worked such tragedies as the Aurora Colorado theater shooting, 9/11, and Hurricane Katrina.
"We are blessed to have him with us," Brown said.
She said the school held a staff meeting yesterday.
"The theme of that meeting was healing and moving forward." she said. "The focus was on our students and how to spot the ones who are troubled about what happened and get them help."
She said Taft High administrators would not be providing information or answering questions about the investigation.