ROSWELL, N.M. (KRQE) – Nearly a month after a 12-year-old boy allegedly shot two students at Berrendo Middle School in Roswell, things are starting to get back to normal.
Last weekend, the scene of the shooting, the gym, finally reopened and a special guest helped kick it all off.
Kendal Sanders, one of the students severely injured in the January shooting, was honored at the event.
“That was one big step for all of us to get to the gym, to see where it happened and get some closure,” said Kendal’s mom, Nickie Portio.
Portio said walking into the gym wasn’t easy.
“I had to pull myself together to go into the gym,” she said.
She said Kendal, 13, who was shot in the arm inside that room, was ready to face her fears.
“For her, to walk into the gym, it seemed very easy to her. She just walked right in whole-heartedly with no problem,” said Portio.
Kendal was an honorary referee for the seventh grade boys basketball game.
“It was really important to have the opening of the gym be as great as it was,” said Roswell Schools Superintendent Tom Burris. “Kendal made it just super.”
Kendal received a warm welcome. The fans stood up and cheered for her.
“It was exciting. Everybody was very happy and excited to see her there,” said Portio.
Portio says the teen doesn’t want any recognition for what happened to her. Instead, she wants to help others in need.
“She had gotten so many stories that the kids were scared to go back into the gym and she wanted to show them that it was OK,” she said.
The Roswell superintendent is also taking what he’s learned from the incident and sharing it with the New Mexico School Board Association. He plans to talk about what to do if a tragedy happens at another New Mexico school.
“How do you greet the parents as you come back to school, how the community comes together in a situation like this and what to expect there,” said Burris.
Portio said Kendal has very little mobility in her right arm. She’s going to physical therapy twice a week.
A family member of Nathanial Tavarez, the other student that was shot, said he’s at a rehab center in Dallas.