DeKalb preparing for NIU memorial service

February 22, 2008 3:54:43 PM PST
Preparations are underway on the campus of Northern Illinois University for Sunday's memorial service. An overflow crowd is expected at the NIU Convocation Center to honor the memory of five students killed in last week's shootings.

It has been more than a week since the shooting. At this point, the funerals are over. All of the students except for two who were injured in the shooting have been released from the hospital, and people are starting to return to campus. There is a very strong desire to get back to normal. While it may take a while, there are many in the DeKalb community that are now wanting to let everyone at NIU know that they stand beside them and welcome them back.

Eight days after the shooting, except for some staff and a steady stream of visitors to memorials set up for the victims, there isn't much movement on campus. Most of the student body remains absent. Among those few that have come back are those in the athletic department.

"Not a lot of people are back yet. It's almost as if we have to put it on our shoulders to get the campus going again and carry them on our backs and be like, 'Look, we have to move forward from this situation,' " said Nathan Palmer, NIU student.

"I enjoy being back. It's nice to see the memorials growing, everybody coming together around campus. It's nice to see familiar faces. We came together as athletics last night, had a nice dinner. It was like coming back to see your family," said Anne Faivr, NIU student.

In that effort to get back to normalcy, student athletes spent part of their afternoon at Lincoln Elementary School, talking to the children about the importance of getting good grades and being active. But it was the kids who gave the athletes the biggest boost. Most dressed in red and black, singing NIU's fight song as the college students entered the room.

"I didn't really know what to expect. Walking in here, seeing all the little kids dressed in red and black, some of them wearing the NIU gear, singing the songs, it brings the Husky pride back. At a time like this, it's real important," said Justin Stewart, NIU.

Friday's event at Lincoln Elementary is one event by the DeKalb School District to show their support for NIU. Children at all of the city schools colored posters that will be attached to several hundred cookies and then handed out to students as they return to campus for the beginning of classes on Monday. But before classes restart, the students and the staff will come together Sunday night on the campus' convocation center for one last memorial service where they will remember all of those who were killed or injured.

The NIU memorial service will be broadcast live to three university outreach centers in the area. Doors will open at 6 p.m. The outreach centers are located in Hoffman Estates, Naperville and Rockford. You can also log on to abc7chicago.com for live coverage of the memorial service.


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