EXPORT, Pa. - Exactly one week after a mass stabbing at Franklin Regional High School, students returned to school Wednesday for classes.
In a show of support, Murrysville community members lined the streets to the school holding signs and cheering for the students as they made their way to the building, some for the first time since the stabbing left 21 people hurt.
“We are a community that attempts to demonstrate Christ’s love to one another, and to our community. That is what we are attempting to show today,” organizer Pastor Curtis Paul said.
Karen Ingersoll was among the supporters Wednesday morning. She said her daughter witnessed the attack, and she feels the students just want to move on.
“They want normal, a new normal. That’s what they want,” Ingersoll said.
The community has rallied around the teenagers since the tragedy, and hundreds attended a prayer vigil Tuesday night in freezing cold temperatures to show how much they care.
The crowd heard prayers and words of encouragement. Heroic stories were told, candles were lit, and the school’s alma mater was sung.
The Sending Back to School Rally took place Tuesday night at Leftwich Pavilion at Murrysville Community Park.
“I don’t think it will ever be the same, but they always say that out of something bad, there is something good that comes,” Kim Barner said.
Earlier Tuesday, some students returned to the high school for an open house. Parents were invited to visit with their children. Counselors and therapy dogs were also on hand to help the students deal with the emotional impact.
Many students told Channel 11 News they were looking forward to being reunited with their classmates after a devastating experience, while others said they were nervous to return to the building.
“Mentally, I’m still shocked from what happened,” said student Michael Spila, who was stabbed in the back.
Police said a fellow classmate, sophomore Alex Hribal, took two knives into the building last week and attacked 21 people.
“I was kind of nervous because I was afraid I might start freaking out or something because you don’t know what would happen if you walked in and had flashbacks. And luckily nothing happened,” said Spila.
Over the last few days, many of the injured were released from area hospitals. Four victims remain in area hospitals.
One of those victims, 17-year-old Jared Boger, has had four surgeries since the attack. Doctors said Boger is off a ventilator and is showing signs of improvement at UPMC Presybterian Hospital.
Bogers mother attended the rally on Tuesday night and said the community’s unity has helped.
“I never thought I would be in this situation. Ever,” she said.
The other three students who remain hospitalized are at Forbes Regional Hospital. Two remain in critical condition, and one victim is in fair condition.
Hribal has been charged with four counts of attempted homicide and 21 counts of aggravated assault. He is currently in a juvenile facility, but is being charged as an adult.
Hribal’s preliminary hearing will take place April 30 at the Westmoreland County Courthouse. Officials met Wednesday to discuss how to accommodate a caravan of local and national media expected to attend.