MURRYSVILLE, Pa. - Attendance was at more than 90 percent as students, met by teachers, therapy dogs, and counselors, returned to the halls of Franklin Regional High School on Wednesday, one week after authorities say a mass stabbing attack carried out by a 16-year-old sophomore left nearly two dozen wounded or hurt.
"What we saw was a lot of people who were dealing with a lot of different emotions, but to be honest the day started off very typically," said Mary Catherine Reljac, an assistant superintendent with the school district. "At the end of the day they reported that the day was better than expected, they were happy to be back, and they were looking forward to coming back tomorrow."
Alex Pasculle, 18, a senior and EMT at Priority One Ambulance who helped treat fellow students after the series of stabbings and slashings that unfolded before the 7:22 a.m. bell April 9, said Wednesday's return to class started with a student-led prayer on the football field.
"I think that as a school we all came together again," he said.
About 41 dogs and 35 handlers have been at the school since Monday, matched with counselors and "student ambassadors" to provide a "comforting presence." Reljac said the students, particularly those grappling the most with their emotions, gravitated toward the dogs.
In planning the return, she added that administrators decided any students or faculty who felt they couldn't make it through the day would be allowed to leave, though she couldn't say whether any did so.