Students return to school for first time since classmates drown

Returning students greeted with tribute video

FRANKLIN, Ind. - Franklin Community High School students returned to school Wednesday, still haunted by the loss of two classmates in June.

Jason Moran and Michael Chadbourne drowned trying to save Sarah McLevish from the waters of the Edinburgh Dam.

After the tragedy there were blue ribbons tied everywhere around the school. As the new school year begins, school officials want to transition away from so many ribbons.

The first step in the transition was a 13-minute video the school put together in tribute to 17-year-old Moran, 16-year-old Chadbourne and 16-year-old McLevish who remains hospitalized at Riley Hospital for Children.

"Part of the healing process is you have to start moving forward. So what we attempted to do in our video tribute was to show honor and remembrance toward the two boys who lost their lives and also to show support for Sarah who is still fighting for her life," Principal Doug Harter said.

It was quiet inside the school as the students changed classes. A parent offered some words of comfort.

"I don't think pain ever goes away. I think we make room for it with time, love, forgiveness and healing and it eventually takes up less room. We're able to fill up that space with a sense of peace and joy in our heart and soul," Deb Brown-Nally said.

Two ribbons will remain on school property -- one near the entrance to the building and one near the gymnasium.

At the first home football game this year, the school will dedicate a bench to Moran and Chadbourne. At graduation, there will be one more tribute -- an empty chair for the classmates who passed away.

See the entire tribute video below:

Follow Derrik Thomas on Twitter: @derrikthomas

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