LITTLETON, Colo. — Arapahoe High School students returned to classes Tuesday for the first time since a deadly shooting there left two dead.
This is the second time the more than 2,200 students have been back since the shooting almost one month ago.
But the first time was quick–just to get their belongings.
Tuesday was far from normal. But many say it was a good way to get them past a bad situation.
“It was just weird walking the halls,” says freshman student Kaylee Rogers.
It was still dark–as students faced a dark moment that eclipsed their school Dec. 13.
“It takes a lot to come back from that, to like, be able to function properly in that sort of environment,” says student Jayce Aukerman.
That environment was frightening–and deadly–for two of their classmates.
Karl Pierson shot and killed Claire Davis before turning the gun on himself.
“We were really uncertain if it was safe or not,” says sophomore Jennie Park.
“Walking through the halls and knowing what happened, knowing people have died there,” is what freshman Annie Lampart said was the hardest part about returning to AHS.
“Just remembering what happened. Just going through it all again,” echoes sophomore Max Gueller.
Their first steps back inside the classrooms–back with their friends and teachers is a healing salve like no other.
“I think it was good because of a sense of normalcy, and like getting back in a routine, kind of move past this,” says sophomore Maddie Hall.
For others, it’s an additional presence of protection.
“I feel pretty safe ’cause there lot of police officers there just watching over the school,” says freshman Ben Eaton.
He’s doing his share by selling handmade rubber bracelets in AHS colors to benefit the Arapahoe High School Community Fund honoring Claire Davis.
Each $5 sales goes to charities that support mental health care and anti-bullying programs.
“We’ve raised about $400 for her,” says Eaton.
Their return also meant abbreviated classes–just 20 minutes each.
“We were just talking about what we do going forward, how we solve this and everything,” says sophomore Austin Meyers.
For once, studying is not the focus–since finals Wednesday and Thursday are now optional.
“Just a lot of stuff has been on our minds. And school and studying is not the right priority we have right now,” says senior Emily Fahlsted.
“I feel so much better now and teachers give good perspective. And every class has been really refreshing,” says senior Nicole Armswood.
Students who don’t take final tests will get the grades they earned up to the time of the shooting. If they do take the tests and score better grades, they’ll get those.
On Friday, the school holds a healing assembly. And immediately following, students begin their second semester.