Teachers and students arrived early at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School this morning, their first day back after an expelled classmate with an AR-15 killed 17 people in a Valentine's Day massacre that has profoundly altered the lives of survivors.
A long line of cars bringing people back to the school in Parkland, Florida was guided by police as dozens of television trucks and vehicles camp out nearby.
Only students, parents, and staff were being allowed through a security cordon. The main entrance was covered with a sign saying "Welcome Back Eagles."
Members of the Broward County Police Benevolent Association handed carnations out to students as they entered for the half day of classes.
For Madison Geller, Wednesday offered an opportunity to get back into a routine, in spite of her fears.
"When I walk in there, I'm going to replay the whole thing in my head. But we have to come here and try to learn," the high school junior said. "This week we will try to be comfortable and get back into the same routine."
Angelyse Perez, a senior, said returning offers a chance for everyone to "get through this and be together."
"But I'm graduating," she said. "I just want to get out of here."
Students were told to leave their backpacks at home for their first day back on campus.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School principal Ty Thomas said in a tweet that "our focus is on emotional readiness and comfort not curriculum: so there is no need for backpacks."
Armed officers were on hand as students returned to the school Wednesday morning.
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