School shooting survivor with central Wisconsin ties goes back t - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

School shooting survivor with central Wisconsin ties goes back to class

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CENTRAL WISCONSIN (WAOW) -

A student with Central Wisconsin ties, who survived the deadly Florida school shooting, went back to school Wednesday just two weeks after the tragedy. 

"It was surreal seeing the building up close and sort of coming to the realization that like it really did happen here, it's hard to believe it really did happen, it's hard to believe it happened at my school," Thomas Holgate said. "It was strange seeing empty seats and knowing why but we'll move forward."

Thomas' mother, Nancy Holgate, is from Stevens Point, she married her husband there as well. 

On Wednesday, she was at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, helping hang thousands of banners around the fenced off freshman building, to memorialize the Valentine's Day shooting

"A lot of people were really down, like I had a couple teachers just cry in the middle of class because it's really emotional but we're moving forward and I think we'll start to move forward and still be proud to be Eagles," Thomas said. 

He said it wasn't easy to go back to his classes, but it is necessary in the recovery process. 

One of Holgate's classes was in the building where the shooting happened. 

"It's strange having to go to a new room but I feel like it's okay because now we don't have to go by that building anymore so we won't have to think about what happened there while we're in that class," Thomas said. 

The future  for the freshman building at Stoneman Douglas remains uncertain at this point, but Thomas said, "I hope it does get torn down and they build a memorial along with a new building there."

Students are on a modified scheduled for the rest of the week, with each class only lasting for about 30 minutes. 

The Superintendent said 95% of the students came back to school Wednesday.  He described it as a family reunion, and an important part of the healing process. 

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