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Illinois students healing 1 year after school shooting

September 20, 2018

MATTOON, Ill. (AP) — Illinois high school students are still healing a year after a shooting in the school’s cafeteria that left one student wounded.

Part of the recovery effort in Mattoon includes a community service work day Thursday, The Journal Gazette & Times-Courier reported . Mattoon High School students will plant flowers, wash cars, organize gifts for Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center patients, clean up the Coles County Fairgrounds and present lessons on kindness and giving back to students at Riddle and Williams Elementary schools.

High school sophomore Rick Wright said it is a chance to give back to the community that supported students after the shooting.

“They helped us on this, so we are helping them on this day,” Wright said.

Wright was in the cafeteria on Sept. 20, 2017, police say, when a student brought a gun on campus. A teacher grabbed the boy’s arm as he fired at a female student in the cafeteria. The gunshot missed the girl but hit another student.

“Overall, it’s not that hard to think about anymore,” Wright said. “Enough time has passed and we are able to see our surroundings in a new light.”

High school junior Bianca Beltran said many students don’t think of the day as frequently, but the scars still remain.

“There are still scars, but they’re kind of the scars that you can hide, that don’t come out every day,” she said.

High school sophomore Alex Seymour said the community service day will be a good chance for students to get off campus and avoid reliving the traumatic events.

The 15-year-old boy pleaded guilty to aggravated battery with a firearm last month. He will be sentenced on Oct 11.

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Information from: Mattoon Journal-Gazette, http://www.jg-tc.com

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