Roses and a sign of support are woven into a cyclone fence around a tennis court at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013. The school was the scene of a shooting on Friday that left a student gunman dead and two other students injured. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
CENTENNIAL, Colorado (AP) - Arapahoe High School students in Colorado returned to class Tuesday for the first time since a fatal Dec. 13 shooting on campus, greeted by increased security and signs on each of their lockers telling them they are loved and valued.
Students hugged one another, laughed and gathered to talk. Some students discussed the ramped up security inside of the school. Others talked about whether they would take final exams made optional by administrators.
"It's weird. I'm not used to all the cops," said Ryan Lamb, a senior at Arapahoe, told The Denver Post."There are five or six cops in there patrolling the halls. It makes sense, I guess."
Students have not attended classes since senior Karl Pierson entered through a door that was propped open and fatally shot student Claire Davis before killing himself.
Investigators believe his intended target was a speech coach who had disciplined him.
Some students said the shooting changed Arapahoe, making students and staff closer in many cases and creating a greater sense of resilience among those impacted.
"It happened. You can't stay focused on it," sophomore Sophie Harrold said. "It has to stay a memory, but you can't torment yourself."
Freshman Abby Meyers told The Associated Press that teachers gave students some time to just hang out and talk. She said students were reminding each other that they were there for one another.
"The community is so much stronger now that we're back," she said.
The Post reported principal Natalie Pramenko sent a letter to parents assuring them additional sheriff's deputies would be at the campus and extra school district staff members would be on hand to help students.
A tribute to Davis that sprung up on a fence outside the school is gone but students were greeted with the words "Love," ''Hope" and "Warrior Strong" spelled out with cups there.
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