School in Fatal Oregon Shooting Graduates its Seniors

Joshua Mitchell gets emotional as he wears the soccer jersey of younger brother Emilio Hoffman during the graduation ceremony at Reynolds High School on Thursday, June 12, 2014 in Troutdale, Ore. Many seniors remembered Hoffman as they stood and cheered and made "I love you" signs with their hands. Hoffman was shot and killed by fellow student Jared Michael Padgett, 15, just two days ago in the school locker room. District spokeswoman Andrea Watson identified Mitchell as Hoffman's brother before the ceremony. (AP Photo/The Oregonian, Randy L. Rasmussen) MAGS OUT; TV OUT; LOCAL TV OUT; LOCAL INTERNET OUT; THE MERCURY OUT; WILLAMETTE WEEK OUT; PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP OUT
It was a bittersweet moment when Joshua Mitchell, the older brother the student shot to death this week in the Oregon school shooting, accepted his diploma on Thursday.

Just two days after a student took a rifle to his high school and shot a classmate to death and injured a teacher before fatally turning the firearm on himself, the school’s senior class has graduated.

Organizers and students tried to make the graduation ceremony for Reynolds High School’s Class of 2014 in Portland, Oregon about anything but Tuesday’s shooting, reported The Oregonian.

“Today is about the class of 2014,” graduate Cole Bronson said before the ceremony. “And we are celebrating that.”

However, the topic was obviously hard to ignore for many, especially when the graduating brother of the student who was killed took the stage to receive his diploma, The Oregonian reported.

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Joshua Mitchell, who was identified by school officials to The Oregonian as the older brother of 14-year-old Emilio Hoffman, stood out from the other graduates by sporting his younger brother’s soccer jersey over his gown.

Students and others in the audience reacted with loud applause when gym teacher Todd Risler entered the arena, reported Risler, whose hip was grazed by one of the bullets, is largely credited with saving many lives during the attack.

Annie Croll, one of the school’s hundreds of graduating seniors, shared some of her thoughts with about this week’s tragedy.

“It makes you thankful that you are graduating and that you get to be together with your classmates.”

We’re stronger now than ever, and we just need to realize that everything will be OK,” she said.

Prior to the ceremony’s start, there was a brief moment of silence for Hoffman before the graduates were encouraged by the school’s principal to “celebrate loud, celebrate proud so all can hear. Including Emilio.”