MARIETTA - Heartbroken. Shocked. Sad.
These words expressed some of the emotions felt by parents and teachers around Washington County and beyond, as word spread about Friday's school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
"I think it's heartbreaking and sickening at the same time,"said Parkersburg resident Barbara Shrewsbury while visiting City Park on Friday afternoon. "It's hard for me to understand something like this. It is heartbreaking and sickening."
Connecticut State Police lead a line of children from the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Friday after a shooting at the school that left 26 people dead, including 20 children. (AP Photo)
Parents were faced Friday with the dilemma of whether or not to talk to their children about this dark, cruel side of human nature. 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.
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 planned to have with their third-grader was going to 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.
On 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," Potash added. "This is part of that preparation."
Mary Daughety, a kindergarten teacher at Barlow-Vincent, 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 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."
Jeff Saulton also contributed to this story.