‘We have to do what we have to do’ — classes resume at Great Mills HS

GREAT MILLS, Md. — Students on Tuesday returned to classes at Great Mills High School in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, for the first time since the deadly shooting two weeks earlier.

Student Carlos Compian said the start of classes Tuesday was “odd.”

“Everybody was kind of gloomy today. It was kind of quiet — more than usual.  But later on in the day everybody started opening back up and everything, and it was like a normal day.”

Counselors were offered to students, and comfort dogs from Lutheran Church Charities, in Illinois, were brought in to try to bring smiles to their faces.

The sign outside Great Mills High School on April 3, 2018, the day classes resumed two weeks after a fatal shooting. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
The sign outside Great Mills High School on April 3, 2018, the day classes resumed two weeks after a fatal shooting. (WTOP/Michelle Basch) (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
There was an odd start to the day, said student Carlos Compian, "but later on in the day everybody started opening back up." (WTOP/Michelle Basch
There was an odd start to the day, said student Carlos Compian, “but later on in the day everybody started opening back up.” (WTOP/Michelle Basch (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Students wore wristbands on the first day back to class at Great Mills High School. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Students wore wristbands on the first day back to class at Great Mills High School. (WTOP/Michelle Basch) (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
A flag outside Great Mills High School April 3, 2018. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
A flag outside Great Mills High School April 3, 2018. (WTOP/Michelle Basch) (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Comfort dogs from Lutheran Church Charities, in Illinois, met with first responders before classes began at Great Mills High School. (Courtesy Lutheran Church Charities)
Comfort dogs from Lutheran Church Charities, in Illinois, met with first responders before classes began at Great Mills High School. (Courtesy Lutheran Church Charities) (Courtesy Lutheran Church Charities)
Comfort dogs from Lutheran Church Charities, in Illinois, met with staff on Monday, the day before before classes began at Great Mills High School. (Courtesy Lutheran Church Charities)
Comfort dogs from Lutheran Church Charities, in Illinois, met with staff on Monday, the day before before classes began at Great Mills High School. (Courtesy Lutheran Church Charities) (Courtesy Lutheran Church Charities)
Comfort dogs from Lutheran Church Charities, in Illinois, met with staff on Monday, the day before before classes began at Great Mills High School. (Courtesy Lutheran Church Charities)
Comfort dogs from Lutheran Church Charities, in Illinois, met with staff on Monday, the day before before classes began at Great Mills High School. (Courtesy Lutheran Church Charities) (Courtesy Lutheran Church Charities)
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The sign outside Great Mills High School on April 3, 2018, the day classes resumed two weeks after a fatal shooting. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
There was an odd start to the day, said student Carlos Compian, "but later on in the day everybody started opening back up." (WTOP/Michelle Basch
Students wore wristbands on the first day back to class at Great Mills High School. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
A flag outside Great Mills High School April 3, 2018. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Comfort dogs from Lutheran Church Charities, in Illinois, met with first responders before classes began at Great Mills High School. (Courtesy Lutheran Church Charities)
Comfort dogs from Lutheran Church Charities, in Illinois, met with staff on Monday, the day before before classes began at Great Mills High School. (Courtesy Lutheran Church Charities)
Comfort dogs from Lutheran Church Charities, in Illinois, met with staff on Monday, the day before before classes began at Great Mills High School. (Courtesy Lutheran Church Charities)

Student Kimberly Martinez said a lot of students were absent from class Tuesday, including someone she knows well.

“I had a friend who didn’t come to school because his mom doesn’t want to let him come back to school for a while until something changed, like more security systems [and] stuff like that,” she said.

Compian said he is not concerned about school security.  “I still feel safe about everything,” he said.

Asked how she’s feeling two weeks after the tragedy, Martinez answered, “A little shocked I guess, because I was in the building (on the day of the shooting) and I knew the person who did it. I didn’t really want to come back today, but we have to do what we have to do.”

Martinez had green and yellow ribbons pinned to her shirt, representing the school’s colors. Compian was wearing three bracelets carrying the slogans #GreatMillsStrong and Jaelynn Strong.

On March 20, 17-year-old Austin Rollins opened fire in a school hallway with a handgun, shooting 16-year-old Jaelynn Willey in the head. The same bullet wounded a 14-year-old boy in the leg.

Rollins then shot and killed himself at the same time that a school resource officer confronted the teen and fired a shot.

Willey died a few days later, after her family chose to remove her from life support.


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