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Rancho Tehama prepares to send students back to school

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RANCHO TEHAMA, Calif. - The parents of Rancho Tehama Elementary School students said they were nervous about sending their children back to school Monday.

To help provide comfort Sunday, Pastor Stephen May of the Rancho Tehama Community Church prayed with a group of parents, students and staff at the school to ask God for protection.

"Father I pray for that strength upon the children tomorrow and the teachers and the staff and everyone," Pastor Stephen said aloud.

On a bulletin board at his church is the message, "Hurting? No one understands like Jesus."

"What we need is changed hearts, and a changed heart comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ," the Pastor explained. "So we're going to continue to preach that gospel and pray that we get those changed hearts."

After the blessings and amen's, the pastor called for the rain and almost on cue, it started pouring. The kids continued to play, happy to be reunited with some classmates all ready and eager to see more friends when classes resume.

Sunday, they said they were excited, mad, and a little scared to return.

"I feel better since the shots aren't going on," said 9-year-old Elianna Diaz. She was a little more apprehensive than her friends after remembering that Tuesday Kevin Neal came shooting into the school.

"I was like scared and crying," Diaz said. Her brother, Mario was in the classroom when 6-year-old Alejandro was shot, but he said he's ready to return and so is his friend, 9-year-old Jayden Oakes.

"We know the killer is dead and so I'm not really that scared, because we know he's not going to come back," Oakes explained. He said he hopes something like that never happens again, which is the same thought that everyone in the community shared.

"We're just really praying for safety and for peace, as I shared with the blessing, that God would just continue to work and prepare the kids coming back to school," Pastor Stephen said. "It's not going to be easy for some, but I know the teachers have been very supportive of each other."

It's a small town in the middle of a storm, but after the rain, there's always sunshine.

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