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Grief counselors help NIU staff begin healing process
By Marni Pyke and Jameel Naqvi | Daily Herald Staff

Virginia Tech Director Cook Counseling Christoper Flynn P.H.D. pauses while he talks to the media after some of the counseling sessions Tuesday at NIU.

 

Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

Director of Counseling at Arkansas Jonathon Perry talks to the media after some of the counseling sessions Tuesday at NIU.

 

Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

Virginia Tech Director Cook Counseling Christoper Flynn P.H.D. talks to the media after some of the counseling sessions Tuesday at NIU.

 

Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

Kristina Serewicz, 21, left, and Danielle Yockey, 18, both NIU students and both from St. Charles pause after signing the student memorial board outside the Holmes student center Tuesday.

 

Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

"NIU is special to me because I for the first time really feel like I am part of a community, it is like a family" said NIU graduate student Terry Brown, of Dekalb after placing a stuffed husky next to the crosses Tuesday.

 

Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

NIU music teacher Glenda Cosenza talks about the counseling sessions Tuesday and what it will be like to return to class on 25th.

 

Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

A close up of memorial board outside the Holmes student center Tuesday; February 19, 2008 NIU coverage of shooting that happened on Valentines day last week.

 

Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

NIU student Andy Robbe of Rockton talks about what it was like on campus last Thursday. Robbe who lived across from where Columbine high school is lost a good friend in that tragedy. Here he talks to the Daily Herald outside of the Holmes Student Center Tuesday.

 

Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

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Published: 2/19/2008 3:34 PM | Updated: 2/20/2008 12:12 AM

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Shaken but resolved, Northern University staff said putting students first would get them through the difficult days ahead.

This morning, marked the start of a return to normalcy at the DeKalb campus rocked by a mass shooting that left five undergraduates dead and many wounded Thursday. Faculty and staff returned to work today and classes will resume Monday.

The gunman, former NIU student Steven Kazmierczak, killed himself.

The university has brought in grief counselors to prepare instructors for the questions students might ask, including experts from Virginia Tech, which suffered a similar tragedy in 2007.

"Faculty need to be aware of their own emotions," said Christopher Flynn, director of Virginia Tech's counseling center. "For many of them, it's a sincere loss. We at Virginia Tech talk about the 'new normal.' Grief continues for a long period of time. Grief takes at least a year to go through that cycle."

NIU art professor Frank Trankina said he and his colleagues expect they'll be dealing with students who knew others who were injured or died.

"I'm going to wait and see what happens," Trankina said. "It's hard to predict how they'll respond, but we need to be sensitive."

Unlike a normal day of classes, filled with noise and bustle, it was a quiet day at NIU.

But numerous people braved the freezing temperatures to lay flowers for the victims and sign a commemorative banner.

Ann Pellican, who attends classes with hearing-impaired students to transcribe lectures, gathered with co-workers to place carnations in front of Cole Hall, where the massacre happened.

"My main concern is for the safety of the students," she said. But she acknowledged going into a lecture hall like the one where the shooter opened fire will be difficult.

"That will really bother me," she said.