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North Park Elementary aims to move on from tragedy




Reunited families emerged from Cajon High School Monday afternoon following a shooting at North Park Elementary School in San Bernardino that left two adults dead and two students injured.
Reunited families emerged from Cajon High School Monday afternoon following a shooting at North Park Elementary School in San Bernardino that left two adults dead and two students injured.
Kyle Stokes/KPCC

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In April, North Park Elementary School in San Bernardino was the site of a shooting that left three dead. As they begin a new school year today, everyone is looking forward to a fresh start.

“I've been with San Bernardino City Unified School District since 1987," said Linda Bardere, communications director for North Park Elementary. "In my memory, I can't remember something that touched a school and school community so deeply. However, those events proved how resilient the North Park staff and school community are.”

When North Park first opened in 1968, it was designed with what's called an open-campus concept. That means it was full of wide open spaces and classrooms that didn't lock.

After the shooting in April, school officials had to consider a lot of changes to make it a safer place for students and faculty.

"The renovations included changing the interior of the school to now have actual walls between the classrooms and doors that teachers or staff members could lock from the inside," Bardere said.

In addition to the safety features, the school also redesigned the inside of the school to keep everyone's mind off of the tragedy and onto the new school year.

"The architect in their design said, 'Let's pull in some quotes from famous people and get some inspirational messages.' Rosa Parks, Mohatma Gandhi and several others are now a permanent parts of the school's interior, mixed with the vibrant yellow and blue colors that promote creativity, innovation and hope."

And while the school is doing everything it can to move forward, Bardere believes that it's uniquely prepared to deal with tragedy in San Bernardino after everything that the city has been through.

"We had the terrorist attack at the Inland Regional Center. We've seen our city come through a bankruptcy and two different fires shut down the school district in 2003 and 2007. Our community is unfortunately used to dealing with disasters and crisis. That has made our community stronger. Our community is just committed to making things better for our students and making hope happen in San Bernardino."