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Students Return To Danvers High School After Teacher Murder

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DANVERS (CBS/AP) — Classes resumed at Danvers High School Friday two days after a student allegedly killed a teacher there.

Philip Chism, 14, is charged with murder in the death of Colleen Ritzer, a 24-year-old math teacher. School had been canceled the previous two days.

Colleen Ritzer. (Facebook photo)

Colleen Ritzer. (Facebook photo)

On Friday, the U.S. flag outside the school flew at half-staff and ribbons in Ritzer’s favorite color pink hung from a row of six trees in front of the building.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Karen Twomey reports

An electronic sign displayed a tweet that Ritzer posted this summer:

“No matter what happens in life, be good to people. Being good to people is a wonderful legacy to leave behind.”

Read: Scholarship Fund Set Up In Honor Of Danvers Teacher

“RIP Miss Ritzer. Gone, not forgotten,” was written in the school colors of blue and white on the windows of a pickup truck in the student parking lot.

A tribute to Ms. Ritzer on a truck in the high school parking lot. (WBZ-TV)

A tribute to Ms. Ritzer on a truck in the high school parking lot. (WBZ-TV)

FUNERAL, WAKE SET

Funeral arrangements were also announced Friday. The funeral will be held Monday morning at 10 at St. Augustine Church in Andover.

Her wake will be Sunday from 3:30 to 8:30 p.m., also at St. Augustine.

On Friday afternoon, officials at Assumption College, where Ritzer graduated in 2011, held a memorial service in her honor.

‘MOUNTAIN OF SADNESS’

Ritzer’s death left behind “a mountain of sadness,” said the Rev. Dennis Gallagher, who officiated at the service at the school in Worcester, about 50 miles from Danvers. But, he said, Ritzer was obviously committed to both to her profession, and to being kind to others.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Lana Jones reports

“Wherever it came from, she seems to have understood some really important things about life,” he said.

WBZ-TV’s Sera Congi reports

Back at Danvers High, a police officer stood outside a cruiser in front of the school, part of the extra security intended to reassure students. Side doors were to be locked for the next few days, and counselors would be on hand, officials told 800 parents at a meeting Thursday night.

‘NOT GOING TO BE THE SAME’

Student Dylan Fitch, who was in one of Ritzer’s classes, said on Friday morning that he thought the return would be “awkward.”

“We can get through it, but it’s really not going to be the same,” he said.

Rabih Chaghouri, whose daughter is a freshman, said he’s confident the school is safe. “This could happen in any neighborhood, any street, anywhere. You never know what goes on in people’s heads.”

Well into the night Friday, the growing memorial outside Danvers High School was a comforting place to keep the candles burning for Ritzer. Returning to school for the first time on Friday allowed students to comfort each other. “It was hard, but everybody was helping each other and was there for each other,” said a student who only gave her name as Christina.

Some found it hard to walk past the door to Ritzer’s classroom.

(Continued…)

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