Chardon High School ready for new year after shooting

CHARDON, Ohio - The notes and cards that hung in the hallways of Chardon High School expressing support following the deadly shootings in its cafeteria have been taken down.

Lockers that belonged to the three students killed last winter have been removed and given to their families. The new lockers in their place have a commemorative plaque, but won't be assigned to students this year.

The students and teachers at the school where three students died and three others were injured are starting to move forward with the beginning of a new school year.

Principal Andrew Fetchik told The (Willoughby) News-Herald that he wants the school to get back into a routine even though it never will be the same.

"The kids are still hurt and hurting. We want to be there for them," he said.

The school is getting a grant from the federal government to pay for a security guard and mental health screenings for students and staff. The money also will go toward paying for substitutes for teachers and staff who need time for counseling.

The district has put new tables and fresh paint in the cafeteria. New classroom door locks have been installed too.

"When I hear the whistles blowing and band practicing it starts feeling like school again," Fetchik said.

The teenager charged in the shooting has pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder, attempted aggravated murder and felonious assault in the Feb. 27 shootings.

Attorneys for 17-year-old T.J. Lane will have until the end of September to finish psychological evaluations and decide whether to change the teen's not guilty plea. His attorneys are considering entering a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity instead.

Lane attended an alternative school for students who haven't done well in traditional schools. He was at Chardon waiting for a bus.

Parents spent several weeks over the summer archiving the cards and notes that came from people across the world.

Math teacher Mark Shafer said he missed the students over the summer.

"We grew close to the kids last year so we can't wait to see them again this year," he said. "The community has become incredibly tight."

Plans are being developed to turn a courtyard into a healing garden. Donations will help pay for it.

"We all have this sense of community that goes beyond words," said language arts teacher Dawn Weaver.

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