Saugus High School Students Return To Campus After Deadly Shooting

A student pauses to reflect on last week's deadly shooting at Saugus High School, Nov. 19, 2019. (David Wagner/KPCC/LAist)

Students returned to Saugus High School on Tuesday for the first time since last week's campus shooting, which left three students dead, including the gunman.

School officials allowed students to gather the things they had to leave behind during the deadly incident.

Students and parents walked past rows of TV cameras, leaving flowers and hand-written notes at a makeshift memorial outside the gates of the school. Balloons bearing the initials of two young victims fluttered in the wind as teachers hugged those returning to campus.

For some students, coming back to campus resurfaced trauma from that day. Senior Dominic Cancino said he was in the library during the shooting, very close to the gunshots, and he could feel those intense memories flooding back as he approached campus.

"The way I would describe it is like a wall closing in," Cancino said. "Everything you hear just comes back, right away, in a snap."

Cancino needed to pick up his swim bag, and planned to meet with his swim coach and art teacher before leaving campus. He wanted to check with school staff and students, to see how they were holding up.

"We all need each other right now," Cancino said.

Flowers piled up at a memorial for students who died in the shooting, Nov. 19, 2019. (David Wagner/KPCC/LAist)

For junior Bella Eng, coming back to campus was healing. She needed to pick up her backpack and water bottle, but was also planning to meet up with friends from the school's theater program to debrief.

"It's really nice being able to connect with my second family in my second home," Eng said. "Because even if my home is damaged now, it's still where I belong."

Classes resume after Thanksgiving break on Dec. 2. But students say they're now on edge, and the school won't ever feel the same.

"The last time you were here, and the last time you walked through those gates, you thought it was going to be an average day," Eng said. "And it turned out to be one of the worst days of your life."