Arapahoe High School students returned to class for the first time since the fatal Dec. 13 shooting to find uplifting notes posted on their lockers that read messages like, "You are loved."
Other notes assured students "You are important," and "We are all Warrior strong."
— Chris Jose TV (@CJose) January 7, 2014
A handwritten sign posted outside of the school that greeted students and parents as they drove up to the building also read, "Warriors always take care of one another."
Tuesday was the second time that students were able to return to their high school after classmate Karl Pierson, 18, walked into the school armed with a shotgun, a machete, incendiary devices and over 125 rounds of ammunition. The first time, students had been only been allowed to come back to collect their belongings and it was not yet known when they would be able to return to school.
“It was hard to deal with at first,” Blake Duff, a junior at the school told 7News at the time. “Just being in the classroom where we left our stuff felt weird. Granted, we were with friends, but it was a dark feeling.”
Investigators say that Pierson may have held a grudge against his debate coach and school librarian Tracy Murphy, but Pierson ended up fatally shooting 17-year-old classmate Claire Davis before taking his own life in the library.
Increased security -- including additional police presence -- and mental health services were present at the school Tuesday to support students and staff as they work to transition back into their schedules. The school has said the students' final exams are optional this week for grade improvement only, and that students who do not take their exams will get to keep their grades as they were before the exam.
The notes on the students' lockers were reminiscent of the communal tone at Davis' memorial on New Year's Day, where the Davis family announced that they were setting up the Arapahoe High School Community Fund Honoring Claire Davis to support local charities that promote mental health care and anti-bullying programs.
The school also announced that the library will be remodeled and is expected to open in Spring.
"It happened. You can't stay focused on it," sophomore Sophie Harrold told The Denver Post. "It has to stay a memory, but you can't torment yourself."