Franklin Regional students to get special backpacks

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A regional car dealership will donate 1,500 clear backpacks to Franklin Regional High School next week, and the school district is asking students to use them to carry items during the school day.

Assistant Superintendent Mary Catherine Reljac said the district will distribute the backpacks, provided by Western Pennsylvania automotive dealer #1 Cochran, on Monday at the Murrysville school.

"One of the things we're really focusing on is how to help people feel safe and secure," she said. "We felt that perhaps the clear backpacks would give everyone a little more peace of mind."

Even before the April 9 knife attack in which 20 students and a security guard were injured, students didn't carry backpacks on a regular basis, Ms. Reljac said. But they do often tote gym clothes and other items from class to class.

They will be asked to start using the clear backpacks, which say "FR Strong," for those kinds of items. The leftover bags will be distributed to next year's freshman class, Ms. Reljac said.

In a statement, Dirk Harper, #1 Cochran employee and a parent of a Franklin Regional high schooler, said: "It’s a small step in rebuilding the feeling of security at the school, but as a parent, I think the backpacks will help give the students, faculty and parents alike, some peace of mind."

Accused in the attack, sophomore Alex Hribal, 16, faces a May 9 preliminary hearing on 21 counts of attempted homicide, 21 counts of aggravated assault and a count of having a weapon on school property.

Two of the injured students remain hospitalized at Forbes Hospital today in fair condition: Connor Warwick, 16, and Greg Keener, 15.

Molly Born: First Published May 2, 2014 4:53 PM

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