MADISON TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WDTN) — Students return to Madison Junior Senior High School Wednesday for the first time after the shooting.
“Madison was ready for it before anything could ever happen,” said mother Tracy Pilkington.
Pilkington said she was just as calm as she is every other day as she dropped her daughter off at school where just two days earlier gunfire erupted in the cafeteria.
“This morning when I woke her up, she was immediately nervous. ‘My stomach hurts, I don’t want to go.’ And I said you’ll be fine,” stated Pilkington.
Her ninth grader, Kaiya, still shaken by the shooting, went to class with knots in her stomach. She knew the suspected gunman.
“He sat with her and her friends often in the morning at breakfast time,” said Pilkington.
Ninth grader Noah Lehman was also nervous and avoided the cafeteria.
“Walking in it was weird. I mean, it didn’t feel right,” said Lehman.
It was a familiar scene of buses and cars in the parking lot, but this time with an added police presence.
“Madison will never be the same, but we can still be great and that’s our objective,” said Superintendent Curtis Philpot.
He kept a watchful eye over the school during students’ arrival and dismissal.
“I got a lot of hugs. I got a lot of thank yous. I got a lot of kids glad to be back, and it seemed very normal,” said Philpot.
As a sense of normalcy made its return, the superintendent said the school is ready to move forward.
“Our community looks out for one another and that’s just one of the benefits. That’s why a lot of people choose to live out here and educate their kids out here,” stated Philpot.
“We love each other. We don’t want anything like this to happen. Friends are friends. Can’t lose them like that,” said Lehman.
A letter was sent home with parents from the district so families can continue their support at home. The superintendent said the school is reviewing its procedures and safety and security measures and figuring out what went right and what it can do differently.