OLATHE, Kan. — Students at Olathe East were welcomed back Monday morning with love and support from parents, staff and the community, after a shooting took place Friday at the high school.
As students walked into school, people lined the entry with signs, high-fives, open arms and good spirits.
“It feels good to know we’re making other kids feel good about coming together back in school,” said Ryan Kapple, Chair of the Father's Club at Olathe East.
It was inside the school where students found thousands of fresh, warm donuts waiting for them, thanks to The Father's Club Olathe East chapter along with other community members.
“They came from all over the city. I mean, who doesn’t love donuts, and it’s 'do nut worry' — thats the dad joke — and it was great seeing everyone feel the love,” Kapple said.
Kapple has twin daughters that attend Olathe East, and he tells KSHB 41 News he was happy to fill hearts with love and stomachs with donuts Monday morning, but Friday was a day he will never forget.
18-year-old Olathe East student Jaylon Elmore is accused of opening fire inside the building — injuring a school administrator and the school resource officer, who reportedly exchanged shots with Elmore, injuring him.
“It’s every parents nightmare to get that message that there is an active shooter in your kids' school, but the second I heard my daughters' voice there was peace," Kapple said.
It wasn’t only the Father's Club and the Olathe School District that offered support — the Johnson County Sheriff's Office brought in a special four-legged friend, better known as therapy dog Gus, to offer up a few more hugs.
“It’s pretty interesting to see the way they interact with him, I mean the stress, they kind of forget about what’s going on and really just cages their thought process,” said Master Deputy Jack Weese with the Johnson County Sheriffs Department.
Weese tells KSHB 41 News it was nice to see the Olathe East students in high spirits, on what was expected to be a tough day.
“All and all, the kids are really doing well, having got through that. I was honestly surprised they were doing as well as they were,” Weese said.
Weese also adds dogs like Gus are meant to provide real comfort and support for folks dealing with serious trauma. He said his favorite part of the day was simply watching students interacting with Gus.
“You’ll see kids and they will see the uniform and they are kind of like — they’re not sure if they can pet him or if they can interact with him, but once you tell them they are like magnets,” Weese said.
Now that students at Olathe East are back where they belong, it’s the community’s support that will help the Hawks keep moving forward.
“Its something out of the ordinary, it’s something new. It’s not them coming back into the same school, with the same people, with the same routine," Weese said.
With spring break starting Friday, Kapple says the outpouring of support seen Monday will make this upcoming spring break one to remember.
“I think all the good vibes in school, heading into spring break, will keep the community stronger,” Kapple said.