CHARDON, Ohio — It was a day of remembrance, reflection, and hope on Wednesday as the Chardon community marked one year since a deadly school shooting.
Hundreds of people surrounded the gazebo in Chardon Square to remember three young lives taken exactly one year ago during a shooting at Chardon High School.
They include students, teachers and community members holding candles in their hands and reflection in their hearts.
“It’s amazing to see everyone’s support to the families who lost so much, and for everyone who’s affected by this, our community is so tight-knit and it’s reassuring to see everyone together,” said Chardon resident Jodi Fisher.
“We all need a little bit of extra support and tonight was a really good night to have that because it allows us all to once again have someone to lean on and be a shoulder for others to lean on as well,” said former student Logan Otto.
The community vows to move forward one year after T.J. Lane went on a rampage, killing Danny Parmertor, 16; Demetrius Hewlin, 16; and Russell King, Jr, 17.
Lane, who is now 18, plead guilty to the murders on Tuesday and plead guilty to injuring Nick Walczak, Joy Rickers and Nate Mueller.
“Their losses are felt every day, however, we Hilltoppers refuse to be consumed with sadness and bitterness,” said Chardon student Adam Benjamin during a news conference with principal Andy Fetchik.
Chardon schools remained open Wednesday, but it was considered a day of service with letter writing and art projects that will be given to the victims’ families.
During the school day, students and staff walked in solidarity from the school to Chardon Square for their own personal remembrance of their fallen classmates.
“We as teachers, I feel like we need the students just as much as they need us and they’re such a part of our healing process, and there’s no place I’d rather be than with the kids today,” said teacher Holly Mihalek.
During the last event of the evening, students gathered at the school with more candles, thoughts and prayers.
“We don’t want to be remembered for the tragedy, we want to be remembered for the strength and unity that we have together,” said superintendent Joseph Bergant, III.