DANVERS, Mass. (MyFoxBoston.com) – Hundreds of heartbroken Danvers High School students are preparing to return to school Friday, just days after a teacher was murdered, allegedly at the hand of one of her students.
Blood in a second-floor bathroom led investigators to the body of 24-year-old Colleen Ritzer in a wooded area near the school Wednesday. Philip Chism, 14, was charged as an adult in her killing.
Danvers High students remembered the beloved math teacher as a role model.
"It's just scary and it's sad because she was so nice and because it was so horrible," said Amanda Fin.
"She was just a really friendly and genuinely nice person, so loving and cared about students and teaching," said Nichole White.
Classes were canceled at Danvers High School Thursday and grief counselors were on hand from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. to support students, staff and parents.
Police and school officials told about 800 parents at a meeting Thursday night there will be extra safety measures to reassure returning students, including locked side doors, and more police and counselors on hand.
Most parents left satisfied, saying although the crime and investigation weren't discussed, they were confident enough to send their children back to school.
One parent told FOX 25 her son is having trouble dealing with the fact the murder was committed so close to where he spends every day.
"This is gonna' be tough, and I know he was even talking about the bathroom, 'How are we going to live walking by the bathroom everyday knowing what happened there?'" she said.
In response, school officials said the bathroom where Ritzer was killed would remain closed indefinitely.
Police told FOX 25 that Chism was seen on video following Ritzer into the women's restroom on the school's second floor. They said he beat her up and used a box cutter to cut and stab her. Police said Chism then put her body in a recycling bin and wheeled it outside and dumped it in the woods near the school.
Students described Chism as a quiet and happy kid who loved soccer.
"It's just horrible. I didn't think he would do that, he's not that type of person," said Stephanie Kowalski.
Chism moved to Danvers from Tennessee. His family has not spoken since his arraignment.
Meanwhile, a message board at the school displays one of Ritzer's favorite quotes: "No matter what happens in life, be good to people… Being good to people is a wonderful legacy to leave behind."
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