Thursday, December 18, 2014

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Amsterdam students return to school with heavy hearts

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Albany/HV: Amsterdam students return to school with heavy hearts
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As Amsterdam students return back to school this week, emotions built up from a summer tragedy also return. YNN's Maria Valvanis explains, the community is doing everything it can to keep kids moving forward in a positive way.

AMSTERDAM, N.Y. -- Nicole Damphier said, "I don't want them to do anything stupid, I don't want them to be fighting and trying to go after other kids."

Paul Damphier, 16, and Jonathan DeJesus, 13, were killed July 9th. Two of their former classmates have been charged with the murders.

The student body will meet for the first time this week as they return from summer break. And those touched by the tragedy want to remind students that retaliation is not the answer.

"I want them to stay positive, I want them to think that's not what Paul would want. Let’s get through this day," said Damphier's sister, Nicole.

"There’s always worry, but there’s also opportunity. This has given our community a heightened awareness of one another," said Ann Thane, Mayor of Amsterdam.

District schools will offer grief counseling to students throughout the year. The community task force, an organization created shortly after the tragedy, will also remain active. And as member John Sumpter tells us, the start of the school year only means they'll be working harder.

"We meet with school officials and we come up with ideas and brainstorm with what can we do to keep community safe, keep kids active and off the street," said Sumpter.

And the task force will continue to have community related events, the next one being a Monsterball tournament at the four diamonds field, focused on the students. Details for that will be released later on this month.

"I think a lot of good came from us being together. We have the ears of the community and residents and we're all hear holding hands, we want to work together," said Sumpter.

"Oh my God, they're amazing. Think what they're doing is fantastic. My brother would be so happy," said Damphier.

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