HERMISTON — Signs that read “Be Kind” and “You Are Loved” grace the hallways and front doors of Hermiston High.
In the wake of the recent suicide of Hermiston student Jenna Thomas, messages of kindness and inclusiveness have covered the empty spaces of the school’s building. They even adorned T-shirts for Hermiston’s final regular season home games.
Before the anticipated Pendleton-Hermiston doubleheader Tuesday, athletic director Larry Usher, along with other school and district officials, demonstrated kindness that came in the shape of said T-shirts, and cupcakes decorated with both Hermiston and Pendleton logos that were given to students before the game.
“Hermiston High School has experienced more than our fair share of tragedy in the last couple of years when it comes to our students,” Usher said.
In 2016, 14-year-old Hermiston student James “JJ” Hurtado was murdered. And earlier this year, the school lost a recent alumnus with the death of Hayden Simon.
With those losses in mind, Hermiston decided to use its resources to celebrate friendly sportsmanship. As Hermiston gets ready to move into the WIAA next season, the Bulldogs have already said there will be no football games between the two schools next year, and no future basketball games are currently planned.
So, when the two teams faced each other on the court for the last time in what may be a while, they wanted their message to be clear.
“Along with our district leadership in Tricia Mooney and our building leadership, we made a choice to forgo some of the negative rhetoric that comes with a rivalry game and choose kindness instead,” Usher said.