Chardon Leaders, First Responders Reflect On Healing Process

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Just over a month ago, a northeast Ohio school was rocked by a deadly shooting. 

But just days ago, those who were among the first on the scene at Chardon High School the morning of February 27 were honored by state lawmakers.  
Donning red ribbons in memory of the three students killed, dozens of law enforcement officials were recognized at the Statehouse by the Senate and House.  
Moments of silence in both chambers spoke volumes as the community continues to heal.
"We're looking for a new normal, and with the help of our students wanting to come back to school and wanting to restore their educational process, this is one of the steps in that recognition of restoring our learning environment," said Joe Bergant, Chardon Schools Superintendent.   
Geauga County Sheriff Daniel McClelland describes the day's events as bittersweet.  
"It's a very, very heavy heart.  I've had the occasion to meet with those families, and I can't imagine the loss, the emptiness that they must feel, not just today but every day as they move forward," said McClelland.
After the passage of an entire month since the shooting, those first responders say they've been able to reflect on the day's events.  
"You become a self-critic.  We all have that tendency.  You wonder if there's something else you could have done," said Tim McKenna, Chardon Police Chief.
"I don't know that the tragedy's hit me yet.  We've been in kind of fast-forward since that morning,"  said Bergant.
As students return to school, the entire community works together to heal.  
"To watch the students come back to their school, come back into class, shows tremendous courage and leadership within the students as to how they did that,"  said McClelland.
McClelland says that the halls of Chardon High School are filled with banners and cards of support sent from around the world.  
The group was welcomed home by Chardon community members just hours after the March 28 ceremony.  
Alyssa Hansen is a fellow in Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism Statehouse News Bureau.