Heartbroken. Shocked. Sad.
These words expressed some of the emotions felt by parents and teachers around Washington County, as word spread about Friday's school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Parents were faced with the dilemma of whether or not to talk to their children about this dark, cruel side of human nature.
And as another school day approaches Monday, teachers and parents must figure out how to handle that first day back-and the realization that this could happen here.
"I was horrified," said Michelle Secrest of Marietta, who has a daughter in fourth grade at Marietta's Phillips Elementary School and a son who is a high school freshman.
"It was so sad for all the families, for the young kids...for the ones who were killed. For the ones who weren't, they'll just be traumatized," she said.
Helping children cope after
a traumatic event
Help children express their emotions through conversation, writing, drawing and singing. Most children want to talk about a trauma, so let them. Accept their feelings and tell them it is OK to feel sad, upset or stressed. Crying is often a way to relieve stress and grief. Pay attention and be a good listener.
Ask your youth and teen (11 to 19 years old) what they know about the event. What are they hearing in school or seeing on TV? Try to watch news coverage on TV or the Internet with them. Limit access so they have time away from reminders about the trauma.
Adults can help children and youth see the good that can come out of a trauma. Heroic actions, families and friends who help, and support from people in the community, are examples. Children may better cope with a trauma or disaster by helping others. They can write caring letters to those who have been hurt or have lost their homes; they can send thank you notes to people who helped.
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
On Friday evening, Kathryn Hartline of Marietta was waiting for her husband to come home before saying a word to their daughter, a third grader at Putnam Elementary School in Devola.
Because his class had discussed the Connecticut school shooting, Hartline had already talked to her son, a sixth grade student at Marietta Middle School.
"I explained what happened, that an individual came into the classroom and some children lost their lives," she said. "I said it was a tragedy, and we need to pray for the families."
The conversation Hartline and her husband will have with their third grader will call for some joint parenting.
"We'll discuss it as parents and decide," she said.
Nancy Emrick of Belpre has a daughter in first grade at Barlow-Vincent Elementary School.
If her first grader has questions, Emrick said she will tell the little girl not to keep secrets for others.
"You have to tell somebody if anyone says they've brought a gun or that they're going to bring a gun (to school)," she said.
Come Monday, Marilyn Potash, a second-grade teacher at Warren Elementary School in Marietta, will have no fears about stepping back into her classroom.
"Life goes on. You just can't stay away and hide," she said.
"We have a duty to teach children and prepare them for life," she added. "This is part of that preparation."
Mary Daughety, a kindergarten teacher at Barlow-Vincent Elementary School, admitted she has a slight case of nerves when it comes to her return to school on Monday.
"It does make me think," she said. "I'm in a closed room this year, so I do have a door and I can lock it."
Other teachers at Barlow-Vincent Elementary School and in other Washington County schools work with students in open-concept classrooms, with only lockers and shelves as dividers.
Emerick said she worries for her daughter, who is in one of these Barlow-Vincent classrooms.
"It's not a regular wall," she said. "There's nowhere for (students and teachers) to hide. There's no doors to lock."