Effects of NCHS shooting linger days later

By Maggie Vespa

September 10, 2012 Updated Sep 11, 2012 at 10:40 AM CDT

NORMAL, Ill.-- Days into his freshman year, school work should have been the only worry for 14 year-old Joshua Ghantous.

"I didn't know if they were going to have metal detectors. There were rumors about that or if police were going to check our bags," Ghantous said.

Joshua says neither of those things happened. Instead he says for many Monday, the first day back after Friday's shooting, the focus was on healing.

"One of my teachers had us journal-write about what happened during the day, what we were thinking," he said. "Just kind of to help us get through it, like to get through the pain and the shock."

It's a similar process for Joshua's loved ones.

"I got to the school as fast as I could, and I was looking for him. I was asking people if they had heard his name," said Adam Ghantous.

Ghantous was the first in the family to learn of the shooting. It took him nearly an hour to reach his little brother.

"You don't realize I guess, how much you trust other people when you just do everyday life. I mean, even when you're driving. The risks that are on the road, the risks of a kid going to school. I guess I didn't realize how scary a situation like this could be."

That feeling also lingers hundreds of yards from the school, in the church that held the evacuated students.

"Every once in a while you get a reminder that life is fragile," said Mike Baker, senior pastor at Eastview Christian Church. "You shouldn't take it for granted, as much stuff as you have, especially your relationships, especially your kids."

Baker says this weekend, attendance at Eastview saw a roughly 10% boost.

"People are going 'hey, what's important in life?' It's not the stuff we normally talk about," he said.

However, Baker and the Ghantous family agree, while it's good to reflect, it's best to get back to normal.

As for safety at school...

"I'm very grateful that he goes to a school where there are so many people that I trust and so many awesome teachers that would put themselves at risk for these kids' lives," said Adam Ghantous.

"Honestly stuff like this at NCHS doesn't happen very often, hardly at all," said Joshua. "It's a very safe and good school, and I'm very happy to go there."

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