Assembly, other activities were planned throughout day

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FARMINGTON — A year after the Aztec High School shooting, students at the school are still coping with the events that left two of their classmates dead.

District Superintendent Kirk Carpenter said school officials in Aztec began preparations for the one-year marker of the shooting months ago. He said they did not want it to be a day during which students and staff members just went through the motions.

“We knew that this Dec. 7 was going to be kind of a pinnacle day,” he said.

Not all students felt comfortable attending school today on the anniversary of the shooting. Carpenter said he will work with the parents to have those absences excused.

“There is absolutely no textbook on how you deal with these things,” Carpenter said.

He said family is important in the healing process. The students who did attend school today had support resources available to them.

The day’s events began with an assembly, and the students took the lead on the planning efforts for activities throughout the day.

“Too many times, we, as adults, try to plan too much for our kids on what we feel they need,” Carpenter said.

He said the district did ensure the school was saturated with mental health resources, including therapy dogs and counselors. There were rooms at the high school set aside for students to go into if they felt overwhelmed. The school also took time to honor and remember the two students who were killed during the shooting.

Community leaders from Aztec, as well as other nearby areas, including Farmington, visited the school to show their support.

More: Aztec High School shooting victim remembered as happy, service oriented

Carpenter said some of the activities included writing notes on rocks to send to people like first responders and creating a community art project of thumbprints in the shape of a tree.

Other schools in the district also broke away from the traditional school day. Carpenter said the district informed the other schools about the high school’s plans, and some schools, like Park Avenue Elementary School, adopted similar plans.

More: First responders honored during Aztec High School's winter assembly

Carpenter said teachers at Park Avenue were encouraged to teach their passions and submitted a lesson plan to the principal for the day. He said one class made quilts.

Carpenter stressed that the shooting will not define Aztec High School or the district, and he said he is thankful for the community support the district has received.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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