Classes resume at Pennsylvania middle school
School will close Tuesday for teacher's funeral
April 27, 1998
Web posted at: 8:38 p.m. EDT (0038 GMT)
EDINBORO, Pennsylvania (CNN) -- Monday was a "test of the human spirit" as students and faculty at a Pennsylvania middle school returned to classes without a teacher killed over the weekend and the student accused of shooting him.
"Today truly was a test of the human spirit," said McLane School District Superintendent Therese Walter said. "It's been a day, though, that's made us a little more humble and a little more proud."
All Edinboro schools will be closed Tuesday for the funeral of John Gillette, a science teacher who was shot and killed while volunteering at a school dance Friday night. The funeral will be held in a basketball field house to accommodate an expected crowd of 2,000 in the northwestern Pennsylvania town of 5,000.
Andrew Wurst, a 14-year-old student, is charged as an adult with homicide in Gillette's death and remains in jail. Under Pennsylvania law, Wurst can petition the court to move his case to juvenile court, but prosecutors said they would oppose any attempt to have the case moved to juvenile court.
Students are escorted from the school dance after Friday night's shooting
On Monday night, parents will attend a meeting with 10 counselors at the middle school to discuss how they can help their children deal with the shooting.
Walter said she was glad the school held classes. The school's normal absentee rate is 4.96 percent. On Monday, the school had 40 students absent out of 957 students, a 4 percent absentee rate, she said.
There was 100 percent teacher attendance at the middle school. The teachers handled the day "beautifully," Walter said.
The main problem was dealing with rumors, Walter said, including one that a student brought a gun to school. That rumor was investigated by the Pennsylvania State Police and found to be unsubstantiated, she said.
Classes were delayed two hours Monday so students could attend a prayer service in Gillette's memory. High school students that had Gillette as a teacher joined middle school students in the service, many wearing white ribbons.
"They're worried it will become real when they get to school and Mr. Gillette is not there," said Mary Barbour, a parent of a middle-school student.
Two other students and a teacher were slightly wounded in the shooting. One student returned to school Monday while the second student is expected to be out of school for a week, Walter said.
Also on Monday, the families of three high school students killed in a shooting in Kentucky last December said Monday they would "call on all Americans to join us in a national effort to end the violence" in schools.
Sabrina Steger, whose daughter Kayce Steger, 15, died December 1 in a shooting that killed three students at Heath High School in West Paducah, Kentucky, and left four others wounded, asked "Americans of all faiths to join together in prayer for the families" Gillette and the two students and teacher that were wounded.
"At the root of these tragedies we are discovering that no one was paying attention to the causes that led to the acts of violence," said Steger in a statement. "No one felt the need to be accountable. That is why later this week we hope to start our own effort to get all Americans to accept accountability by sharing their experiences and ideas to help us find ways to end the violence.