By: Alex Bozarjian
Oxford High families knew this day would eventually come.
Over the last two months, they’ve tried to heal as a community, and heading back to school will hopefully be a step not a setback in that process.
But some will still have heavy hearts as they remember the four students who didn’t survive the shooting.
“You know kids in our building aren’t here anymore,” junior at Oxford High School Athan Aretakis said. “Having to go through this loss and just having to think about all the events that happened just changed what you feel and how you feel.”
Athan was in physics class on November 30 when he heard gunshots down the hallway. He managed to escape through a window without a scratch.
Four of his classmates died from their injuries. Seven others were hurt.
“You want to feel relief,” Athan’s mother said. “But when you feel the relief that things are okay for you, the guilt sets in because it’s not okay for everyone else.”
Leslie Aretakis has been sitting with secondhand survivor’s guilt for nearly two months.
She says Oxford was always a safe haven for her family, and now the community is not only fractured but under a microscope.
“You see these people that are outside of your community just tearing down your administration and all of that and that’s very hard to see,” she said.
The Oxford High School administration has made it clear students and their mental health must come first.
They’ve changed the look of some parts of the building and plan to provide therapy dogs and counseling to whoever needs it.
Clear backpacks are also mandatory for all Oxford High School students. Athan says the school gave him his for free.
“It’s going to be the first time in a month in a half that I’m going to be in the building,” Athan said. “But I’m sure everything will be okay.”
This story was originally published January 10, 2022, by WMXI in West Michigan.