DANVERS (CBS) – As night fell outside Danvers High School, the row of candles near the sign on Cabot Road grew. “Just sadness, disbelief and anger,” junior Brenna Ambrose said of the emotions she felt as she and her friends left signs and candles.
The memorial to slain math teacher Colleen Ritzer served as a reminder to current and former students, that this was, in fact, real. “I was just praying it wasn’t true and then we heard her name and it just broke everyone’s heart,” said Jenna Glazier, also a junior.
A candlelight vigil planned at the school eventually grew to hundreds. Among the crowd, a mother and son recounting the impact the energetic and dedicated teacher had on their own family. “He has turned around from not liking math and having a difficult time to absolutely loving it and loving her as a teacher and learning so much,” Julie Goutzos said of her son Stephen, a sophomore. “She was unbelievable,” Stephen added. “She made me start to understand and took the time out to come over and help me out and help everyone individually.”
Ritzer was in her second year at Danvers High School. On her Twitter page, she said she was a math teacher often too excited about the topics she was teaching.
“She was just very passionate and very active. She never complained. She never yelled at us. She was a great teacher,” Brenna Ambrose added. Brenna and her friends spent the afternoon Wednesday working in Ritzer’s honor. “We started a little donation fund for the family. It’s called ribbons for Ritzer,” Kaitlyn Nash explained. “We just spent like a couple of hours making these little pink ribbons because pink was her favorite,” she said. The group of former students plans to give the money to the Ritzer family, in hopes of developing a scholarship in the name of their beloved teacher.
“These kids loved her. All these kids. Look at all the kids here,” said Julie Goutzos who is also a school bus driver. She’s worried about when her son and fellow classmates go back to school later this week are hit again with the reality that Ms. Ritzer is gone.
“It’s hitting home because it’s affected my son myself as a driver. It’s affected my whole community and it’s just horrific,” she said.
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