There was nothing normal about Monday at either Portage or Wheeler high schools.
Students at both schools returned to class after learning of the weekend death of 19-year-old Amanda Bach, a 2011 Portage graduate, allegedly at the hands of 18-year-old Dustin McCowan, a 2011 Wheeler graduate.
Near the flagpoles at Portage High East, the school's sign was lined with candles, bouquets of flowers, single red roses and a teddy bear. Items remained from a Saturday night vigil organized by friends of Bach after they learned she had died.
"It was a very subdued Monday," said Wheeler Principal Don Gandy. Gandy said officials had emailed teachers about Bach's death and McCowan's alleged involvement and made counselors available. A handful asked to talk to a counselor, he said.
"It's been difficult for our kids here, and I have to say they've handled it admirably. It is a tragedy for both families," Gandy said.
Portage Township Schools Assistant Superintendent Tom Taylor said counselors and home-school advisers were available to students throughout the day, and a grief session was held at the end of the school day. Teachers, counselors and advisers were contacted over the weekend to be apprised of the situation before coming to school.
Taylor did not know how many students took advantage of counseling.
Gandy said administrators also "asked faculty to put rumors to rest."
Throughout the day people posted messages and opinions on separate Facebook pages mourning Bach and supporting McCowan.
Gandy said faculty were asked to advise students to "let the investigation progress" and not participate in rumors or gossip.
Taylor said Portage students likely were given the same advice by counselors or teachers if the issue arose during the course of the day.
Both administrators said the effects of Bach's death will be felt by students, some more than others, but that the schools, while having counseling available, have to go about the business of educating students.