OXFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WXYZ) — Administrators with Oxford High School say all hands are on deck as they plan to welcome students back into the building for the first time since the deadly shooting two months ago.
“I’m a little anxious about it,” says John Edwards who was only a student at Oxford High School for two months before the tragic shooting that took the lives of four people and injured several others.
“There’s always going to be that fear now in the back of my mind,“ says Jennifer Cadeick, Edwards's mom.
Cadeick says she has mixed feelings. She wants her son to have some sense of normalcy, but it’s intimidating.
Dr. Jim Henry, an expert on trauma with children, says a range of emotions is to be expected.
“The building is going to be triggering because it brings us right back,” says Dr. Henry.
To prepare, Dr. Henry, who's been working with the Oxford School, says the students have been engaging in gradual exposure.
Last week high schoolers had half days at the middle school to get comfortable being inside the classroom. This week, the high school is hosting open houses. Officials are encouraging parents and students to walk the halls and get re-acclimated with the building before classes begin.
Edwards plans on going tonight.
“I know a lot of people, me included, want to see a big change with how it looks and everything because I don’t want to look at the place and say this is the same place that this happened, I want to look at it and think this is just school regular school," says Edwards.
Officials say the building has been repainted with calming colors, there will be soft white lights, new carpet and tile. Also, words of encouragement from middle schoolers will be posted on lockers. Something else that will be different, more counselors and officers on standby.
“We want them to see very clearly that we are there, we are available, and we’re doing everything we can to make them not only feel that safety but feel reassured that we can get through this together,” says Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard.
Ultimately, Dr. Henry says it’s important for students to know it’s okay to not be okay.
“Not thinking of Oxford Strong as picking your bootstraps up and not let anything bother you, but Oxford Strong as a way to be human, to embrace my safeness, my dear, because my safety was taken away,” says Dr. Henry.