GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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October 25, 2013

Teachers, students share grief

DANVERS — Danvers High teachers are grieving — they lost a colleague, and one of their students is accused of killing her.

But through it all, they realize they still need to support hundreds of young people who have been devastated by the tragedy, they said Thursday.

“For us, I think, it goes a little deeper because it feels like a sense of betrayal for our mission as teachers,” said Christopher Hopkins, a history teacher who heads the Danvers teachers’ union. “We have to get over that. We have to be strong for our students and colleagues.”

Hopkins, who lives a few blocks away from the school, awoke to the sound of helicopters circling the school on Wednesday and wondered what was going on. It was news he never wanted to hear.

Thursday, he was back at the school, which was opened so that grief counselors could help those dealing with the tragedy. Teachers and students tried to console each other the best they could, he said.

“There were a lot of tears,” Hopkins said. “We want to get the students back to a normal routine as soon as possible. They need that structure and order in their lives.”

Hopkins, who has taught at the school for 10 years, said there is a great atmosphere at the school with the renovation of the building and many young teachers. They need to maintain that spirit in the wake of the tragedy, he said.

“We have to give a positive message out of this tragedy,” Hopkins said. “This is a defining moment for us and we can’t let it be a negative moment.”

This is no easy task with growing issues revolving around school violence, such as the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where a gunman killed 20 children and six adults last year.

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