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Students hailed for aiding stabbed staff member; school principal and parents thank community

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BEDFORD, N.S. -

Two students are being recognized for their quick actions, and school administration and parents are thanking the community, after a difficult week at Charles P. Allen High School in Bedford, N.S.

The school was placed in a hold-and-secure Monday morning just before the first bell rang, after a stabbing incident sent two staff members, now identified as vice-principal Wayne Rodgers and school administrative assistant Angela Light, to hospital with serious injuries. A 15-year-old student, who was also injured, now faces 11 charges, including two charges of attempted murder.

Parents and the school principal are now highlighting the response of two 15-year-old boys just after the stabbing.

Grade 10 students Easton Schlender and Rory Chadwick were the first to respond to Rodgers, after finding him in the school office suffering from several stab wounds.

The boys didn’t want to do video interviews or have their photo taken, but agreed to speaking to CTV News for this story with their parents’ permission.

Chadwick says he was in the administrative office getting help with his PowerSchool login before the first bell rang, when Light ran into the office, followed by Rodgers, who laid down on the office floor.

“I just got some paper towel, lifted up his shirt,” says Chadwick. He says Rodgers had suffered a stab wound in his torso, so he applied pressure.

“I feel like in most movies, they tell you to apply pressure,” he says.

That’s when Schlender came along.

He had been just outside the school’s front entrance, and ran inside the school after a teacher told him to.

“So I went into the office and I looked down and Rory is sitting with Mr. Rodgers holding paper towel on his wound,” he says.

“Rory was like, ‘Just hold your hand here,’” says Chadwick. “And I saw he only had thinner paper towel … so I went over to the [office] kitchen and found thicker paper towel, and then I found a sweater so I gave that to Rory.”

While Chadwick put pressure on the abdominal wound, Schlender put pressure on Rodger’s other wound in his upper back.

The boys say they stayed that way for 10 to 15 minutes until police officers came in and took over.

“I just wasn’t thinking,” says Schlender. “I did what I had to do.”

Schlender’s mother, Sarah, says she didn’t know what her son had done until her husband reached him on his cellphone later that morning.

“He asked him if he was OK, he said in a very shaky voice, ‘I think I just saved someone's life,' and then he said, ‘I have to go dad, the police want to talk to me.’”

“[I’m] kind of heartbroken, but proud at the same time,” she adds. “He's 15, it's a lot for him to take on.”

Sarah Schlender’s son, Easton, is one of two youths being praised for their quick actions in delivering first aid to one of the school staff members who was stabbed Monday.

Earlier this week, Rodgers came back to the school after being released from hospital to thank them for what they did.

“It was good to see him,” says Schlender.

While the teens are humble over their actions, the school’s principal and parents are praising them for their response.

“Just absolutely amazing,” says school principal Stephanie Bird.

Bird is also grateful for how staff and Halifax Regional Police reacted that day.

“I don’t even know where to begin to thank the people that did what they needed to do,” she says. “From the beginning, Angela and Wayne are the first heroes, followed by my security and my other VP, who made a huge difference in what could have happened in this building.”

“The main office staff were incredible, and then all of the students and staff who went into hold-and-secure so quickly.”

The office where it happened is now taken over by flowers and cards sent from other schools and community members, along with plenty of snacks and fruit baskets.

Bird is tired after a very long week, but says the students have helped.

“The students brightened our day on Wednesday when they arrived, it was so awesome to see them and to see their smiles and their hugs.”

Charles P. Allen High School (CPA) principal Stephanie Bird is seen in her office Friday.

“It's been a very heavy week,” says Lorelei Burgess, a parent and a member of the School Advisory Council (SAC) at Charles P. Allen High School.

“It’s really important to thank the people who were here, there’s a lot of good that came from what happened, and there’s a lot of people who are responsible for saving lives,” she says.

Fellow SAC member Cheryl Orlik says many parents she’s talked to feel the same.

“Everyone thinks that everything went exactly as it should have at the time, and they’re all very, very thankful for the response of everybody,” says Orlik.

Orlik says staff have been going the extra mile all week.

“We have a VP who was on leave,” she says. “And when he saw this was all happening, he came in right away to support everybody.”

Burgess says assistance from inside and outside the school community has helped kids feel safe.

“We’ve seen a lot of people who were here on Monday who have come back, and we spoke to one of the administration who said she was here for the students, and it was important for them to see a smiling face,” she adds.

“It's been an incredible show of love and support.”

The pair also credit Bird for holding everything together.

“She puts her entire heart and soul into this school,” says Burgess.

On Friday, students and staff left school early, dismissed at noon, based on the recommendation of trauma experts at the IWK.

Bird says the move was essential not only for students, but for staff.

“It’s been incredibly difficult for them,” she says. “They were in hold-and-secure with the students, and so for a period of time, they didn't know what was going on, and that's a really scary feeling.”

When the stabbing happened, Bird wasn’t in her office yet, and says she tries not to think of what could have happened if she had been.

She says the early break Friday will give the school and its staff the break they need to “get back into some kind of routine” on Monday.

“This is a whole community of support,” she says. “And I can’t be more grateful.

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