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School district to break ground on new cafeteria following fatal shooting

Artist rendering of project

MARYSVILLE, Wash. -- The Marysville School District has approved plans to replace a high school cafeteria that was the scene of a fatal shooting 18 months ago.

The school board voted unanimously Monday evening to spend $8.1 million on a "food commons" at Marysville-Pilchuck High School. The 16,000 square foot, steel framed building will host a cafeteria and gathering spot for more than 1,200 students at the high school.

The old cafeteria was the scene of a fatal shooting in October 2014. A student opened fire on his classmates, killing four, before turning the gun on himself.

That building has been closed since the shooting happened, officials said.

"This is a huge step in rebuilding. It represents hope, a rebirth, and a future," said Dr. Becky Berg, the school superintendent. "We will never forget the young lives lost, but there's also a healing process that needs to happen."

Without a traditional eating space, students have been squeezing lunch into their classrooms, the school gymnasium, and the activities center for the past 18 months.

"Some kids have said they're scared and no one really talks about it that much, because it's not a fun topic," said Sergey Nikitenko, a senior at the high school. "I think they should [build the facility] because kids need to move on, build something new. It'll be better."

Groundbreaking is scheduled for April, with completion of the commons by the end of the calendar year. A state grant and matching funds will provide $7.5 million for the project. The district's capital project funds and capital project interest earnings will make up the rest, a spokeswoman said.

"I think the entire community is excited at the opportunity of having a commons - a new commons - that has lots of glass and natural light," added Ray Houser, the district assistant superintendent. "It will serve as a location for students to once again come together en masse."

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