Tuesday is the first day of actual classes for students of Marysville-Pilchuck High School. On Monday, students were bused to the school for a shortened day. It was the first time since the shooting on October 24 that the school community had come together.
All through last week, the teens of Marysville-Pilchuck stayed home from school and did whatever parents like Tracy Brown organized: “We skated one day, went to a movie one day, bowling one day, we had a pizza party.”
Distractions couldn’t keep the students from what they were thinking and feeling. Some of them had seen the shooting in the cafeteria. Some of them had lost friends.
Tracy Brown’s daughter is a freshman who had known Zoe Galasso, who died in the school cafeteria. Brown said the week was a parade of emotions. “Very stressful, very heartwarming, very bittersweet.”
And as Monday rolled around, a few of the students tweeted that they did not know how they were supposed to go back to school.
This is how: Hundreds of people, many of them in school colors, lined the street to wave them in as their buses arrived.
They chanted. They made little heart shapes with their hands.
You could see the students’ faces in the bus windows, reacting. Some with smiles and waves, others tough to read.
But the day was young.
Soon after, students gathered in the school’s gymnasium for a ceremony. They sang "Lean on Me."
But the big thing, they said on Twitter, was just to be together.
Outside, people who didn’t have a teenager at the school said they came in the pouring rain because they wanted the students to know they weren’t alone.
“When I heard about it, it broke my heart and having teenagers, I just had to be there to support them,” Rebecca Richmond said.
After the school buses took them home, the school district said the day was a good start.
Superintendent Becky Berg said attendance had been optional, but around 85 percent had shown up. The school had put lots of counselors on site, but it turned out students looked to each other for support.
“They had lots of time to be together and to hug and to cry and to begin the processing of this event together,” Berg said.
The next big test is Tuesday – a full day of school, with the return of academic pressure.
Some of the teens expressed the meaning of their day back on Twitter.
“Marysville-Pilchuck is my home,” said Morgan Van-Dalen.
“October 24 and today will be days I will never forget,” said Ryan Edwards.