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Students attend new day of classes at McNair High School

10:48 PM, Aug 21, 2013   |    comments
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DECATUR, Ga. -- Just under 150 students showed up for classes at McNair High School Wednesday morning, along with 67 school staff members. 

Within the same 24 hours, students at Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Center witnessed an afternoon of terror following a shooting on the campus. The school usually sees 800 students and 90 faculty members each day. 

PHOTOS | Gunman at DeKalb elementary school 

VIDEO | Cell phone video of shooting at McNair Academy

Tuesday afternoon, officials announced that classes would resume Wednesday for the elementary students, but would be held at McNair High School. 

VIDEO | Suspect Michael Hill taken to DeKalb County Jail 
VIDEO | Students evacuated after shooting at DeKalb school 
WATCH | Police press conference on school shooting 

For the few students who were ready to get back to work at the high school arrived to a new day, a new school and as administrators hoped, a renewed focus. 

"We have actually three goals that we want to accomplish today," Principal Brian Bolden said. "We want to feed their little bodies, we want to feed their minds and we want to feed their spirits with encouragement to let them know that they are champions." 

Bolden said his staff had a lot of training and preparation for moments like those of Tuesday. 

"We always told our students to treat every drill as real," he said. 

They held school to try to get back to things familiar. 

Regional Superintendent Rachel Ziegler said, "We just want to keep it as normal as possible. The buses will come back and deliver them back home." 

They started the day almost like a pep rally. They realize, though the students still have fears.  

As students, faculty and parents get ready for Thursday's school day, Superintendent Michael Thurmond said at a press security measures will be reviewed for strengths. Officials, he said will look at lessons learned and everything that can be done to prevent injury and harm will be.

In looking out for student safety, Thurmond said the school had locks on doors, video cameras and front office staff to help. As part of security, McNair's bookkeeper started a conversation with the shooter and talked him down while law enforcement made their way to the school.

Thurmond said multiple layers of security were put in place. As soon as officers had the suspect in custody, they made sure the building was clear and carried out the process of reuniting parents and children.

Going forward, Thurmond said they will review every event of Tuesday and improve any process they can. He said it's a commitment they began Tuesday night. He said they debriefed for three hours to see what could be done better.

Thurmond said although the process wasn't perfect, all children and employees were safe

Ziegler said school operations will be back to normal on Thursday at the elementary school, and parents are encouraged to be on time. 

"The criminal could have had somebody else with him," 5th grader Jordan Harris said, "They could have got away and they could come back today and try to do something else."

Crisis counselors went room to room. 

Dr. Vasanne Tinsely, Ed. D., Director of Community Support said, "We will talk to them, making sure they know they are safe today. We will also provide resources for the students and parents to take home today for community outreach." 

The students get out of school Wednesday afternoon around 2:30.

Wednesday afternoon, officials said Hill's public defender waived his first court appearance in DeKalb County.  

Investigation showed Hill had a less than clean criminal past. He was arrested earlier this year for threatening his brother, Timothy Hill. The arrest took place in Henry County, where Timothy lives.

DeKalb shooting suspect Michael Hill was charged with terroristic threats in March. He posted the threat against his brother on Facebook, saying "that he would shoot him in the head and not think twice about it," according to the police report.

READ | March Henry Co. police report on Hill 
READ | December Henry Co. family violence incident report 

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