Controversial 'Team Jaylen' T-shirts worn by some Marysville-Pilchuck H.S. students reopen old wounds

Alicia Maye
Students Wear T-Shirts Supporting School Shooter to Anniversary Event
Students Wear T-Shirts Supporting School Shooter to Anniversary Event

MARYSVILLE - The Marysville School District confirms that a "small number" of students were seen wearing t-shirts with the phrase "Team Jaylen" painted on them, referring to the 14-year-old school shooter who shot five friends and killed himself.

The students were spotted wearing the shirts at an optional student-planned and student-led gathering on April 24 to mark the six months since Jaylen Fryberg opened fire on five students in the cafeteria at the high school, Marysville School District officials said.

According to the Tulalip Tribe, tribal officials were alerted to the shirts after some students and adults brought the news to school administrators. The students wearing the shirts were talked to individually, and each asked to change their attire, the school district said.

Jodi Runyon, a Marysville School District spokesperson, said the school will not allow the shirts to be worn.

"The action of this small number of student was isolated to the day of the gathering," Runyon said. "However, it should be noted that any attire that could potentially disrupt the educational environment will be addressed and students will continue to be asked to remove items of clothing or other personal effects that could create such a disruption."

Runyon continued:

"We remain steadfast in our work with the Tulalip Tribes and the city of Marysville to continue on the long road of recovery and to create an environment in our schools and communities where all students can learn without disruption."

The Tulalip Tribe posted a letter about the t-shirts on May 4, saying that they created "an environment that is harmful to other students who are trying to heal and recover from the tragedy."

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The victims' families responded to the T-shirts Monday. Donald Hatch, the grandfather of Nate Hatch, the only survivor at the shooting that day, agreed with the tribe's response.

"When he shot these four children and killed them and killed himself and shot my grandson, I think he lost everything, the honor of having one named after him, a T-shirt named Team Jaylen," said Donald Hatch.

He believes his grandson, who was shot that day, would feel the same.

"He's still upset, and I don't think he would want that," said Donald Hatch.

Gia Soriano's grandmother, Elaine Soriano, said she could understand why some of the students would want to wear those shirts. Gia was slain by Fryberg that day.

"I'm sure he (Fryberg) has family and friends that are hurting but just want to do something," said Elaine Soriano. "I don't know if that was the right thing to do but everyone needs support."

Some students in support of the T-shirts said they didn't condone what Jaylen Fryberg did, but say they still miss him.

"He's family, he's friend, he's part of the tribe," said Marysville-Pilchuck High School student Rachael Pomeroy. "We should be able to say his name; we should be able to have remembrance about him; we should be able to give him a moment of silence."

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