Back To School In Red Lake

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Two boys wounded in last month's deadly shooting rampage at Red Lake High led the way as students returned to the school Monday to gather up their belongings and take part in a traditional Indian healing ceremony.

Classes will resume on Tuesday at the school on the Red Lake Indian Reservation.

On March 21, 16-year-old Jeff Weise shot his grandfather and his grandfather's companion, then went to the school and killed seven people before shooting himself, authorities say. The dead included five students, a teacher and an unarmed security guard.

Monday, Ryan Auginash, 14, and Cody Thunder, 15, were at the front of a group of about 300 students, teachers and parents.

The visit to the scene of the nation's worst school shooting since Columbine in 1999 began with the songs and prayers of an Ojibwe Indian healing ceremony.

"Oh Heavenly Father, send your Holy Spirit upon this school," the group chanted before entering the school. "Protect them from all evils. Give them strength to come in here and reclaim this place from the power of evil... Give them strength to reclaim this place as a place of learning."

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports Auginash was at the head of the procession by his own request. "I wanted to show everybody it's OK. Everybody's scared. I was scared, but it's going to be all right," said Auginash. "You can't stay away from school forever."

Students and their parents - some of them crying - walked together through the halls.

"I think it was a healing process for all of them," said school principal Chris Dunshee.

Police kept journalists from watching, and the people who attended declined to provide details, respecting the preference of spiritual elders on this remote Indian reservation.

Some students said they are fearful but determined to return to class.

"This is where I went to school," said Misty Roy, a 15-year-old sophomore who retrieved her driver's permit from her locker. "I know everybody here. I just want to stay here."

Monday's visit was to allow students to pick up personal effects and to give them one last chance to see that part of the school before a major remodeling changes its look.

"It was creepy," Sondra Hegstrom, 17, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune, adding that she could still see some of the bullet holes.

Counselors were there to listen to students who wanted someone to talk to, and Dunshee said some students did. Police officers also were visible inside. Posters and cards of encouragement from students in neighboring towns had been set up to view.

That section of the school will be closed for extensive renovations, while high school classes will resume in an older part of the school that had been slated for demolition.

Students also will begin using a different school entrance, away from the main doors the gunman walked through.

Carol Aenne, Red Lake's acting superintendent, said the atmosphere around the school will be more relaxed than usual in terms of enforcing school rules. Officials want students to feel welcomed back, she said.

Dunshee said he expected about 90 percent of the school's teaching staff to be on hand for Tuesday's re-opening. He said the remainder are not yet ready to come back; substitutes will fill the gap.

The crowd at the healing ceremony included Floyd Jourdain Jr., the tribal chairman for the Red Lake Band of Chippewa, whose 16-year-old son Louis has been arrested as a possible accomplice of Weise's. His case is being handled in federal court as a juvenile proceeding.

Also Monday, a parent of a Red Lake student told KVLY-TV in Fargo, N.D., that his son was subpoenaed to appear on April 13 before a grand jury investigating the case. The subpoena, shown to KVLY, asked for the student to provide fingerprints, an oral DNA swab and a full body color photo. The student and parent were not named in the television report.

Phone messages left Monday night with the FBI, the U.S. Attorney's office were not immediately returned to The Associated Press. Dunshee told the AP that he was unaware of any subpoenas. Authorities have interviewed many teenagers as they investigate all aspects of the shooting.

Jourdain spoke at Monday's ceremony at the school, but Dunshee declined to talk about what was said. Jourdain didn't return a phone message left at his office. He has proclaimed his son's innocence.

An open house was held under tight security Monday at the adjacent middle school. Elsewhere on the reservation, classes resumed at the elementary schools.

School officials said last week that tightened security would include locked classrooms while school is in session and armed Bureau of Indian Affairs officers patrolling the hallways.

Arleda Scott, 14, was at the middle school Monday and said she wasn't worried about any more violence.

"I'm pretty sure that it's not going to happen," she said. "There's security everywhere."

However, she said a few of her classmates are not ready to come back. "Some of them are scared," she said.

Scott's mother, Michelle Johnson, said it is time for children to go back to school. "This is a good place for students, for kids to be," she said.

Meanwhile, Dunshee gave an update on two 15-year-old boys who remain hospitalized in Fargo, N.D.

Dunshee said he visited Jeffrey May and Steven Cobenais on Saturday. May, who was shot in the head, is in good spirits and has been moved to a pediatric unit.

Cobenais, who was shot in the forehead and lost an eye, recognized Dunshee when he walked into the room and gave one-word answers to his father's questions. Dunshee marveled at the boy's recovery.

"What a fighter. What a little trouper that guy is," he said.