Chardon High School teachers returned to the building Wednesday morning and were greeted by families showing gratitude for the leadership and bravery demonstrated by so many of the educators during Monday’s shooting rampage.
2011 graduate Cody Griffis and his family held up a sign of support, because according to Griffis, "the teachers made sure everyone was safe. I heard multiple stories of teachers keeping everyone in rooms, being brave for everyone else. These teachers helped save tons of people, so it's the least we can do."
Earlier Wednesday, the President of the United States also expressed his support.
President Obama called Andy Fetchik, Principal of Chardon High School, to express his condolences and concern.
In a private conversation, President Obama told Fetchik that he was heartbroken by the shooting and that he and the First Lady are keeping the entire Chardon High School community in their thoughts and prayers, according to the Department of the White House Press Secretary.
As the community grieves the loss of three teens, Chardon students and their parents are gravitating toward a memorial to the victims at the iconic gazebo on the town square.
Wiping away tears, freshman Brittney Wilson said she dreads the idea of going back inside the school, but her mom has convinced her it is the first step in healing broken hearts.
"I just feel like it's going to be so hard for everybody because we loved those kids and it shouldn't have happened," said Brittney.
Her mother, Debbie Wilson, told Fox 8, "It's a process that we're all working through, but Chardon is that kind of community where we pull together.”
The square is considered the center of life in Chardon, and that's why many students have agreed to meet, along with their parents on Thursday morning, for their first trip back to the school since the tragic events of Monday.
As she surveyed the balloons, flowers and candles at the memorial, seniors Jacquelin Caruso said the presence of the parents will be a comfort, as students face one of the biggest challenges of their young lives.
“They were the first people I wanted to see when all of this was happening, just seeing then for the first time brought tears”, said Jacquelin. “I was bawling when I first saw them, so just knowing that they're going to be there is just something that is really special.”
Classes at the high school are scheduled to resume on Friday morning.