St. Johns might be more than 700 miles away from Newtown, Conn., but the tragic events hit close to home.
“We're out in the country,” St. Johns resident and father of two Dan Smith said. “Your mind blows up thinking about what could have happened, it could be my son’s school.”
Smith’s son, Noah, is a kindergartener who came to Friday night’s basketball game against Owosso to watch his big sister dance at halftime with her fellow third graders.
“I'll be paying attention a little bit better than normal,” Smith said. “You just...you just...got to be here with them more. I think all families need to be with their kids a little more often.”
Many parents were holding their kids closer, and police made their presence known. St. Johns doesn’t usually have security at basketball games, but multiple law enforcement agencies were at the game. They said it was just the right thing to do.
“We'll be stopping at several of the schools tonight that have activities going on,” Clinton County Sheriff’s Deputy Chris Crawford said. “It gets our presence here and people know that we're around, helps people ease their mind and stuff, we want to be here.”
That’s a comfort for visiting fans like Mary Ardelean, who works at Owosso High School where her sons attend and play on the Trojan basketball team. Her maternal instinct has kicked in, and she’ll be watching the door at school on Monday.
“It's just the mom in you,” Ardelean said. “I mean, when you're used to seeing people, and it's an unfamiliar face, you’re just kinda questioning, ‘OK, why are they here and where are they going?’
Ardelean’s mother and relatives live in Connecticut. Knowing they’re safe, she’s more focused on her children, even as they enter college.
“They say you never stop worrying, and you don’t,” Ardelean said. “You don’t. You don’t know, you can just think about them and wonder if they’re ok.”
Ardelean said she’ll call her family in Connecticut in a few days. She wants to give them time to focus on their own well-being, rather than this national tragedy.