MILWAUKIE, Ore. -- The principal of Milwaukie High School is apologizing. Mark Pinder said he was wrong in his decision to have dozens of school trophies, plaques and banners thrown into the garbage, ahead of a huge construction project. But students found them, and their outrage has now gone viral.
When summer vacation starts in two weeks, the main building of Milwaukie High School will be demolished to make way for a new one approved by a voter bond, to be completed in 2021. The trophies apparently had been in an old storage closet in boxes, and thrown away to prepare for construction.
Pop the trunk on senior Bailey Reed's car, and inside are colorful, hard-earned trophies and banners from his Milwaukie High School Mustangs. The senior fished them out of the dumpster this past weekend.
"Here's one for cheer, dance and here's one uniform we could save," he said.
They're glimpses into the past. Of the days when Milwaukie had a championship boxing team in the 1930s. We even saw awards as current as 2013. Some are etched glass awards, some are three feet tall, some are framed certificates, others are leather banners that hung from the gym ceiling.
"I'm going to post about them online and find the people who fought for us to return them," Reed said of his plans.
It was student Kayla Gilmore's Facebook post that went viral Friday afternoon and started the outrage.
From a stairwell, she and other students spotted trophies thrown in the dumpsters and started rescuing them while videotaping it. Alumni and other students shared the post, and soon thousands had seen it.
"People work so hard for them and they were making claims that none of them were state or league trophies or stuff like that when they definitely were and that's all our school has at this point," said student Toni Harrison.
"My sister and I have been in cheer and dance for years and we look at those trophies and we worked really hard to have our trophy," said student Greain King. "To realize they've been thrown away like they're nothing, that really hurt. We work hard for that stuff."
Outrage grew and Principal Mark Pinder sent an email to students over the weekend explaining that they had been cleaning out storage rooms in anticipation of the construction and decided there were so many old trophies in boxes that they would keep the state and league titles and throw out the rest.
He also apologized, in part saying:
"I am truly sorry for my decision to have some trophies thrown out last Friday. I never intended to offend this great school and the people who make it so.
"I want to assure you that all of the items recovered will be put in storage with the other trophies. The new school building will have dedicated space to honor the history of this amazing school and students.
"I am sincerely sorry to have let you down, and I take full responsibility for this hasty action."
Many students appreciated the apology. Others said it was just done because the administration got caught and was taking heat on social media.
"He went out of his way to send an email to everybody so I think that's pretty good," said student Martin Cutler.
But even Wednesday afternoon, students were finding more framed certificates and plaques that they say appeared in the dumpster after the email was sent.
"It's kind of a like a slap in the face to the whole school and all their accomplishments to the present and the past," said student Joseph Sardotz.
North Clackamas School's director of communication Jonathan Hutchison told KGW, "The principal made a mistake which he acknowledges without hesitation. And when it was brought to his attention, those items were removed from the dumpster and will now be stored properly. It was a mistake, plain and simple and we regret having done that."