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School Gets Grant to Help Restore Safe Environment After Teacher's Murder

Danvers High was just awarded a $50,000 federal grant to help provide resources to recover and re-establish a safe school environment in the wake of Colleen Ritzer's murder in October.

Colleen Ritzer, 24, of Andover, was a math teacher at Danvers High School. Credit: Courtesy
Colleen Ritzer, 24, of Andover, was a math teacher at Danvers High School. Credit: Courtesy
Danvers High School is getting close to $50,000 from the federal government to pay for additional security, substitute teachers and counseling for grieving students and staff, following the murder of math teacher Colleen Ritzer two months ago.

The grant comes from the Department of Education's Project SERV program (School Emergency Response to Violence), which often awards grants to schools to help with recovery efforts and re-establish safe environments in the wake of traumatic events.

Ritzer was allegedly killed by 14-year-old student Philip Chism on Oct. 22 in a bathroom at the school. Chism is facing murder, rape and armed robbery charges.

"In light of this senseless tragedy, we want to provide support to the students, school staff and community of Danvers who were impacted by the loss of this young teacher," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a statement. "These grants will help provide the necessary services needed to restore the learning environment."

Congressman John Tierney said in a separate announcement that everyone -- especially Danvers High students and staff -- was “deeply shaken” after Ritzer’s death and the grieving process continues.

“These funds will support the ongoing efforts to return a sense of normalcy and safety to Danvers High School, and above all, restore the commitment to learning to which Ms. Ritzer was so devoted,” said Tierney.

According to Project SERV, the grant will help provide enhanced security for after-school hours, substitute teachers covering for teachers still in distress, offering after-school library hours so teachers can give students extra help in a more public space and additional mental health services to students, staff and others who are still grieving.

Prosecutors say the day Ritzer was murdered she had asked Chism to stay after school to prepare for an upcoming exam.

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