EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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October 24, 2013

Outpouring of sympathy follows slaying of teacher


“Today we mourn the tragic loss of Colleen Ritzer, a teacher at Danvers High School and a 2007 graduate of AHS,” said the statement released by Superintendent Marinel McGrath. “Our deepest sympathies go out to the Ritzer family and the Danvers Public School Community at this difficult time.”

The School Department did not release any other statement. High school Principal Chris Lord referred all comments to McGrath. Attempts to speak with teachers were rebuffed as reporters were asked to leave the high school premises.

The faculty was brought in for an emergency staff meeting immediately after school, according to several students interviewed in downtown Andover yesterday.

One of the students, Sean O’Connor, 17, a junior, said there was no formal announcement over the school’s public address system because there was some kind of technical glitch. He said he expected some kind of statement today.

Another student, a 9th-grader, said her Spanish teacher, Tom Powers, talked about it in class yesterday.

“He said it was a really tough day for all of us,” said the girl, who did not wish to be named. He added, “We are all grieving for the family.”

During the emergency faculty meeting, staff members were advised not to speak with the press and to respect the privacy of the family.

Another student said her health teacher also spoke to the class about the murder.

Teacher’s union President Kerry Costello said, “The administration reacted to the needs of staff and students today, and came together as a community.”

Part of that involved keeping conversations at the school out of the public spotlight and not commenting on them, according to Costello.

“We intend to respect the privacy of the family,” Costello said. “It was just a very hard day.”

Other schools that Ritzer attended issued statements as well.

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