MOUNT GREENWOOD — Twenty-two students and five teachers from the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences returned safely from Paris Monday afternoon, after a terrifying and heartbreaking weekend.
The foreign exchange students and teachers from Mount Greenwood arrived in Paris around 1:30 p.m. on Friday. A series of terrorist attacks — killing at least 129 people — erupted later that evening.
"Luckily, they went straight to bed," said Ald. Matt O'Shea (19th) on Monday.
Tucked away safely in the hotel, the students eventually began receiving phone calls and text messages from family and friends concerned about their well-being. O'Shea said that "within a few hours" all of the students had contacted their families.
"They heard sirens, but they all thought maybe it was a fire or just an accident. They didn't know what it was," O'Shea said.
John and Jennifer Lucid of Mount Greenwood were able to contact their son, John Jr., about 1½ hours after hearing about the attacks. It was a particularly agonizing time Jennifer Lucid said as her initial calls and text messages went unanswered.
"He was pretty upset," Lucid said, recalling her son's mood on the phone.
John Jr. told his mother that he and his fellow students were instructed to get their shoes and passports. They then gathered in a single room together.
The mother of Dylan Dennehy of Mount Greenwood said her son and others on the trip were on the third floor of a hotel in Paris — just three blocks away from an attack that killed more than 100 people.
She was then quickly whisked away on Monday afternoon to an awaiting bus that took some 35 parents and guardians from the high school at 3857 W. 111th St. to O'Hare International Airport.
At the airport, O'Shea arranged for a private room for the students to reunite with their loved ones. Prior to the meeting, he also coordinated a luncheon.
A clinical social worker was on hand and spoke to the lunch crowd about how to best discuss the situation with the returning students. The group was originally scheduled to return on Saturday.
A crisis management team will also be on hand at the school on Tuesday, training the school counselor and others on how to work with students troubled by the attack.
O'Shea credited Ag School Principal William Hook for working quickly to make sure everyone was safe. The Far Southwest Side alderman also said he reached out to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who helped ensure the students quick return.
"For this to happen 72 hours ago and to have every one of those kids home with their family I think is a tremendous accomplishment," O'Shea said.
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