A new school symbolizing a new beginning - but with heightened security - stands ready for Amish students who survived a shooting that killed five of their classmates exactly six months ago.
The one-room New Hope Amish School was scheduled to open Monday, a few hundred meters from the spot where the massacre took place. Built by the entire community, the school is protected by more sophisticated locks on its doors and is reachable only by a private drive.
It replaces the West Nickel Mines Amish School, which was torn down Oct. 12. Ten days earlier, milk truck driver Charles Carl Roberts IV shot 10 girls inside the school and then committed suicide as police closed in.
The new school's construction costs were paid for in part with a portion of more than $4 million (EUR3 million) in donations to the Nickel Mines Accountability Committee, the primary organization collecting donations on behalf of the victims.
The money also has helped to provide care for the five girls who were wounded by Roberts.
Four of the five wounded girls have returned to school. The fifth girl, a 6-year-old, is fed by a feeding tube and is not able to communicate, according to Mike Hart of the Bart Township Fire Department, who is also a committee member.
Roberts' widow, Marie, and their three children have moved from their home in the village of Georgetown, about a mile from the shooting, to another community within Lancaster County, according to Hart.
Charles Roberts, apparently tormented by an unconfirmed memory of having molested relatives 20 years earlier, and by the 1997 death of his own infant daughter, shot and killed himself. Amish families attended his burial service.
The new school, partially made of brick, also was funded by donations made directly to the school board, and by in-kind contributions.
The Amish are a community that shuns modern conveniences like automobiles and electricity, opting for a simple, agrarian lifestyle.