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Thurston memorial dedication on May 21.

Byline: Matt Cooper The Register-Guard

SPRINGFIELD - A group of dedicated people has quietly moved closer to bringing a sense of closure to the shootings at Thurston High School as the fifth anniversary of the tragedy approaches.

A monument to the students killed and wounded, as well as to the heroes who rushed forward to end the violence, will be dedicated at 4 p.m. May 21, in the southwest corner of the school, exactly five years after the attack.

The Thurston Memorial Workgroup, which includes parents of students wounded or killed, as well as school officials and others, first announced its efforts in January. Its members salvaged - and scaled back - plans for a memorial stalled in 2001 by lack of financial support.

"It needed to be done," said workgroup member Cindy Murdoch, whose children attended Thurston at the time of the shootings. "It's a sign of respect toward all the kids."

After a meeting Tuesday night, the group detailed both the memorial design and the outpouring of community support that has made it possible.

That support includes the likes of Jim Robertson, of Robertson/Sherwood Architects, who has donated his time to help design the memorial.

He described a monument that will include a basalt column that recognizes students Ben Walker and Mikael Nickolauson, both killed in the shootings, and a paved area dedicated to all of the school's students.

That area will feature colored bricks that represent Ben and Mikael, as well as the 25 students who were wounded and the seven who stopped shooter Kip Kinkel and secured his weapons.

Those who sit on benches at the memorial will see more than just the monument, Robertson said.

They'll have a tree-lined view of the surrounding hills - "so there's hope," he added, "looking toward the future and moving on."

The group still needs $10,000 to cover the $46,000 cost of the project. But workgroup member Rick Weaver, whose son was in the cafeteria where the shootings took place, said the amount of donated services is harder to quantify.

Nurseries have donated plants, companies have donated truckloads of material and a pipe company donated pipe, Weaver said. One firm even paid for a plumber for do waterline work.

When Weaver calls a company looking for support, "not only do I get a donation," he said, "but they'll refer me to another one. Everybody knows somebody that's involved (in the shooting's impact). It shows you how small the community is."

The group members still have much to do. They've tentatively scheduled May 17 for a massive planting, pending weather conditions.

But they can see the work coming together now, and they're talking less about whether the memorial will be completed and more about what the monument might mean for people.

They credit Springfield interim Superintendent Steve Barrett for committing himself months ago to the memorial's completion by May 21, and for keeping the group doggedly on task.

After the meeting, it was suggested that the memorial could mean closure for, among others, Mikael Nickolauson's parents - Michael and Dawna, both members of the group who were absent on Tuesday.

Barrett agreed.

Five years ago, he was one of the first to arrive at the horrifying scene, beating even the ambulances.

"We all need closure," he said. "You don't forget, but you do need closure."


For more information, call Yvonne Atteberry at 746-5572. Donations by check can be made out to the Springfield Education Foundation (designate them for the memorial) and sent to the Memorial Fund, care of the Springfield School District, 525 Mill St., Springfield, OR 97477.
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Title Annotation:The design is taking shape as many people offer to help with the project; General News
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Apr 30, 2003
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