Students and staff across Champaign County and in Ohio in general are wearing orange and black, supporting West Liberty-Salem Local Schools following a school shooting Friday.
The shooting critically injured 16-year-old Logan Cole. Another student was injured less severely and is only identified as A.S. by officials. The alleged shooter is a classmate, 17-year-old Ely Ray Serna. Cole was moved from the intensive care unit at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus Jan. 21, though he is still recovering from injuries, Logan’s father Ryan posted publicly on Facebook.
Students and staff at area schools wore WL-S school colors, sent letters of support and sympathy, snacks and more across the county, while working through their own shock at a nearby shooting. Attendees at the Triad Local Schools basketball game Friday wore orange and black as a sign of support.
WL-S remained closed Monday and was expected to reopen Tuesday an hour later than usual.
The hashtags #WLSStrong and #TigerStrong on Twitter lit up with images showing support to West Liberty-Salem Schools on Monday. Support throughout the county dovetailed The Great Kindness Challenge, an event presented by the nonprofit Kids for Peace, whose goal is to create a more positive, unified and respectful school environment. The challenge lasts all week.
Triad High School senior Jennifer Sizemore helped organize the orange and black display at Friday’s basketball game and Monday’s regular school session, promoting it on Twitter and Facebook.
“We became more of a tight-knit community. We already were, but I think we feel closer now because of what happened,” she said, noting some at Triad know or work with people at West Liberty-Salem. “We really want to support them in any way we can.”
Urbana High School students expressed surprise and shock Monday. Several knew both Serna and Cole, whether through friends or as past classmates.
“It’s been very intense here,” said Urbana senior Dakota Bloemhard. “It’s shocking; it’s just heartbreaking.”
Urbana freshman Bryce Hatzer said he thought security should be increased at schools to prevent shootings in the future.
“This touches close to home,” said Urbana freshman Tessa Armstrong. “You never thought it could happen to you.”
“It’s kind of confusing to me,” said Urbana sophomore Taylor Adams, who said Serna used to attend school with her. “It’s scary. I’m hoping this teaches people that these things can come out of nowhere and you need to expect it anytime.”
Urbana freshman Austin Moyer said he has been in shock. “I’m just sitting here confused. I don’t know how someone could go to sleep and wake up and say, ‘I’m going to shoot someone.’”
Urbana junior Jessica Beverly said she thought Logan Cole was a hero. Ryan Cole, Logan’s father, posted on Facebook that Logan, after being shot, asked the shooter not to injure others.
“He’s a role model to the public,” she said.
As part of their support, area schools provided counseling or other services, either to their own students or to WL-S on request. Graham Local Schools offered custodial assistance and a counseling team if needed by WL-S, Superintendent Kirk Koennecke said. Urbana City Schools is offering assistance to WL-S as needed with counseling, Urbana Superintendent Charles Thiel said. Triad Local Schools is offering school counselors at the district as well, Superintendent Chris Piper said. Mechanicsburg teachers are having age-appropriate discussions with students about the shooting and reviewing protocols for responding to an active shooter, Superintendent Danielle Prohaska said.
Active shooter response for area districts
Urbana uses the “Run, Hide, Fight” protocol for dealing with intruders, Thiel said. Training is provided by the Urbana Police Division.
Graham, Mechanicsburg Exempted Village Schools, WL-S and Triad all follow the ALICE protocol (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate). The Champaign County Sheriff’s Office assists with training. ALICE focuses on having staff and students evacuate if they can and is becoming more popular than traditional “lockdown” procedures that keep people in buildings behind locked doors.
Supporting Logan Cole
There are a couple of options to support Logan Cole in his recovery. There are currently two GoFundMe pages set up for Logan. For more information, visit gofundme.com and search for Logan Cole.
Casey S. Elliott may be reached at 937-652-1331 ext. 1772 or on Twitter @UDCElliott.