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Classes Resume at Oregon School

May 27, 1998

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. (AP) _ Military buglers played taps beside a flag-draped coffin as hundreds of mourners said goodbye to a Thurston High School senior killed in the cafeteria shooting rampage.

A standing-room-only crowd of 900 filled the Eugene Christian Fellowship church Tuesday to remember Mikael Nickolauson, one of two teen-agers killed last Thursday.

``Yesterday is terrible. Today is terrible. But tomorrow is another day,″ said Otis Harden, a retired Methodist minister who knew Nickolauson for years.

Nickolauson, 17, got military burial honors because only three days before his death he had enlisted in the Oregon National Guard as a systems analyst. He was to have begun training this summer.

Mourners included groups of girls in red-and-black Thurston team jackets, black leather-clad members of a veterans’ motorcycle club and crisply uniformed National Guard troops.

Some students, who left their first day back at school since the rampage to attend the funeral, were on crutches or had arms in slings.

``It hurts so deep it stabs at the very heart of our being,″ Harden said between prayers, Scripture readings and tales of a boy who taught his teachers how to use their computers and was eager to please.

His alleged killer, Kip Kinkel, 15, remained under suicide watch in paper clothes in a juvenile facility. He is charged with killing his parents, then driving to school, entering the crowded cafeteria and firing more than 50 shots before several students tackled him.

The other student killed, 16-year-old Ben Walker, was buried Monday. Twenty-two students were wounded or hurt.

The day before the shooting, Kinkel had been arrested and suspended for allegedly buying a gun from another boy and putting it in his locker. He was sent home with his parents, who friends say were becoming increasingly frustrated with their son’s fascination with guns and bombs.

That afternoon, National Guard officials got a call from a person anxiously seeking to enroll his son in a Guard program for troubled youngsters. The man didn’t identify himself but said his son was 15 and had just been suspended from Thurston High. The minimum age for the program is 16 and those facing charges are not eligible.

National Guard program director Keith Bonner quoted the man as saying: ``I have a son who is probably going to be in serious trouble and I’m looking for help.″

Classes resumed at Thurston on Tuesday, as students nervously walked past walls where bullet holes had been patched and painted over. About 100 students went straight to special ``safe rooms″ where they could be alone or talk to counselors. Some counselors brought dogs for the students to pet.

Principal Larry Bentz said nearly all 1,400 students showed up. Teachers were instructed to let the students dictate how the day would proceed. In a typing class, for example, the students simply tapped out their feelings.

William Kinkel, 59, and his wife, Faith, 57, both popular foreign-language teachers, were found shot to death in their home after the school rampage. A memorial service is scheduled for Friday night at Springfield High School, where Mrs. Kinkel taught Spanish.

The couple’s 21-year-old daughter, Kristin, a student at Hawaii Pacific University, released a statement through her attorney relaying her ``deep, deep sorrow to the victims. ... She feels and shares your loss.″

``Kristin is, as her parents were, supportive of her family,″ the statement said. ``Her brother is a part of that family and she remains supportive of him. She has had an opportunity to speak with Kip and they shared their grief.″

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