Nearly a week after the shooting that turned Arapahoe High School into a war zone, nerves remain raw and a sense of disbelief lingers.While Claire Davis, the 17-year-old victim felled by a point-blank shotgun blast, remains in a coma, the community continues to rally around the high school's students and staff.
"I still don't believe it happened," said Arapahoe junior Tessa Serrano, who along with her twin sister Cheyenne and fellow Arapahoe High junior Caroline Powell, stopped by the growing makeshift memorial to Davis to read cards taped to the fence and reflect on what Powell called "the craziest day of my life."
"There's a lot of love here," said Cheyenne Serrano. "The support from friends and family and people around the community I've never even met has been incredible.
"Wearing white "Warrior Strong" T-shirts and expressions of grim determination, students returned to the scene of the Dec. 13 shooting this week to pick up personal belongings and reconnect with classmates.
AHS juniors and seniors were allowed back into the school for the first time Dec. 19. Sophomores and freshman were scheduled to return for a few hours Dec. 20.
School district officials announced late this week that the school's library will be remodeled before reopening next year. The library was damaged by a fire from a Molotov cocktail thrown by shooter Karl Pierson before he shot himself.
Classes at the high school are expected to resume early next year but district officials have yet to announce a specific date when students will return.
"There are no activities at Arapahoe this week," said Diane Leiker, director of communications for Littleton Public Schools. "There are no classes or finals. Finals will not occur in any format until students return in January."
Across University Boulevard from the high school, employees at the Burger King franchise were readying for an all-day fundraiser for Davis scheduled for Dec. 20. The fast-food restaurant planned to donate 100 percent of its sales on Dec. 20 to the Davis family.
"We wish we could do more," said the restaurant's manager.
Other businesses located near the high school were also quick to pitch in. Several were also planning to donate a portion of their sales this week to the fund for Davis. During the anxious hours after the shooting, the King Soopers in the Cherrywood Square Shopping Center served as a makeshift shelter for students and a command center for emergency responders.
Immediately south of the grocery store, the gym at Shepherd of the Hills Church was transformed into a gathering area for students who were led in groups out of the school and then interviewed by police investigators before being released to the custody of their parents.
Well into the evening, King Soopers employees continued to load up shopping carts full of water bottles, cookies and candy bars and pass them out to nervous parents waiting behind yellow police tape or in the long pick-up line at Shepherd of the Hills.
With the high school closed this week, many of the smaller merchants in the shopping centers adjacent to Arapahoe said business had fallen off considerably."We really miss the students," said an employee at Chipotle in the Cherrywood Shopping Center.
"It's just not the same around here without them."Courtney Harriman and Tian Bank said they came to the memorial outside the school on Dec. 19 to "place flowers and pray for Claire."
Both graduated from Heritage High School in 2013.
"Arapahoe is our sister school. We've got lots of friends who still go here," said Harriman."I was home when it happened and felt so helpless watching on TV," said Bank. "We needed to come here and bring flowers — and pay our respect. I wish we could do more."