LOS ANGELES -- Classes resumed Monday at Saugus High School for the first time since gunfire erupted on the campus nearly 21/2 weeks ago, leaving two students dead and three others wounded.
"Our objective today is for students to return to a normal routine," Mike Kuhlman, deputy superintendent of the William S. Hart Union High School District, said at a news conference outside the school.
For students returning to the Santa Clarita campus, this new normal included a beefed-up law enforcement presence, a team of mental health counselors and roving therapy dogs. Counselors were also stationed in the school's performing arts center to help parents who "need to be around a little bit on campus," Kuhlman said.
The school was operating on a minimum day schedule, with students due to be dismissed at 12:21 p.m.
"As we are continuing on these next upcoming weeks, it's going to be really difficult -- really difficult -- for us," said Andrei Mojica, 17, president of Saugus High's Associated Student Body. "But I know that through this sense of community, once more we will be OK."
Officials assigned an additional assistant principal and substitute teachers to the school to help ease the burden on staff members affected by the tragedy, Kuhlman said.
Saugus High had been closed since the Nov. 14 deadly shooting in the school's quad. Police say student Nathaniel Berhow came on the school grounds on his 16th birthday armed with a .45-caliber handgun and opened fire. Two students -- 15-year-old Gracie Muehlberger and 14-year-old Dominic Blackwell -- died hours after the shooting. Three others were taken to nearby hospitals with gunshot wounds and survived.
Berhow ended the attack with a self-inflicted gunshot wound and died a day later, according to investigators. Authorities later determined the weapon used in the shooting was assembled from parts, a so-called ghost gun without a registration number.
On Monday, Mojica urged his classmates to take advantage of the mental health resources that officials were making available to students.
"A lot of us are dealing with problems and issues inside of us that we never thought we'd deal with in our entire lives," he said. "But regardless, I know that we'll get through it as long as we take the time to take care of ourselves and take care of each other."
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