Some were scared. Some were cynical. Some were defiant.
But the students who returned to class at Tacoma’s Foss High School on Thursday were resigned to the fact that it was a school day and their attendance was required.
“What happened yesterday was pretty ridiculous, but you still got to go to school and still got to get your education,” Foss senior Albert Tremlett said as he walked to class the day after student Samnang Kok was shot to death inside the school. “Stuff like that happens in Tacoma all the time.”
There was a heavy police presence at the school Thursday morning. At least five marked Tacoma Police Department cars were parked in front of the building, and another officer was stationed at the school entrance near South Cheyenne and 19th streets. Two Tacoma School District security guards also were on campus in cars with yellow flashing lights on top.
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No incidents were reported.
Some students and parents brought flowers and balloons to honor Kok, a 17-year-old junior gunned down by another student before first bell Wednesday. Several bouquets were arranged near the front steps, not far from where uniformed police officers directed traffic at the school bus drop-off.
The student suspected of shooting Kok – 18-year-old Douglas S. Chanthabouly – was arrested Wednesday morning. He was scheduled to be arraigned Thursday at 1:30 p.m. in Pierce County Superior Court.
Freshman Rurick Thomas walked to school Thursday with buddies Jensen Chau, Jheryl Jefferson and Donte Roth.
“I feel insecure, unsafe,” Thomas said.
Jefferson, also a freshman, agreed.
“It shows you that anything can happen,” he said.
Omunique Jackson, another freshman, said the shooting incident convinced her “be friends with everybody.”
Sophomore Dmitriy Svezhentsev said he, too, felt uneasy about returning to school but wasn’t going to let those feelings keep him out of class.
“I’m trying for that accident not to get in the way of my studies,” he said.