St. Paul, Alta., students back at school where van killed girl

Junior high school students St. Paul, Alta., return for the first time today to the school where a minivan crashed through a wall in October, killing one student and badly injuring two others.
Racette Junior High School in St. Paul, Alta., opened for the first time Monday after a minivan crashed into the wall of a classroom killing one student and injuring two others. (CBC)

Junior high school students St. Paul, Alta., returned for the first time today to the school where a minivan crashed through a wall in October, killing one student and badly injuring two others. 

One father told CBC News he recognized the importance of the day to his Grade 6 daughter.

"I just wanted to see she's OK," said Rhamim Tidal who drove his daughter to school, something he doesn't normally do. "She was kind of hesitant to go in."

Tidal said his daughter wanted to return, and that Racette Junior High was her school.

"It's part of the healing process for students," he said.

However, not all students returned to the school.

Twenty decided to stay in the school to which they were transferred while repairs were being made at Racette, said school superintendent Glen Brodziak.

"We've left it to parents' choice, with consultation with their children, and families will go where they feel best, feel safe," he said.

"Our goal would have been to if we could've kept our entire Racette family together and that still troubles us," he said. "But we're trying make the best of a pretty difficult situation."

Megan Wolitski died when a minivan crashed into the below-grade classroom, landing on top of students as they sat at their desks.

All the students at Racette Junior High were moved to other schools in the town 200 kilometres northeast of Edmonton.

The school reopened Monday after repairs were made to the classroom — which now will be used solely for storage — and concrete barriers added along the wall struck by the minivan.  

Richard Benson, 46, has been charged with criminal negligence causing death, two counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm, resisting arrest, and possession of marijuana.

With files from CBC's Scott Fralick