RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) - Just last year Connecticut shooting victim Emilie Parker was a kindergarten student at Maggie Cordova Elementary School in Rio rancho.
Now her former teachers and classmates are struggling with her death.
Monday, they headed back to school for the first time since learning she was among those killed.
Parents at Maggie Cordova Elementary School say they're shaken the shooting in Connecticut has touched home in New Mexico.
Most of Emilie's classmates from last year still go to school at Maggie Cordova.
The principal says though there are more than 1,000 students the school is like a big family and they will feel this loss.
Emilie left a mark on the hearts of many here before she moved with her family.
Grief counselors were on hand Monday for anyone, students, teachers or parents, who might need to talk about Emilie.
"Just all the kids…I mean they're babies, they have their whole lives ahead of them and in my mind you just you think of your kids," Evette Rivera said.
Parents say the shooting and violence can happen anywhere.
"Just scared, you know," Darlene Aldano said. "Just making sure they're always safe…that's all we can do and we have faith in the principal and vice principal and all of the teachers and staff..."
School official's say they don't have plans yet for a memorial for Emilie, but say they're thinking of maybe planting a tree in Emilie's memory this spring.
There is a memorial fund set up for the family.
People also came together Monday night for a vigil in Cabezon Park near Connecticut shooting victim, Emilie Parker's former school.
School staff and the Parker family's church friends were instrumental in organizing this event.
They wanted a place to come together, remember and grieve as one.
"You just feel so helpless because there's just so little we can do to help them," Elizabeth Jones said. "Anything to come together and pray for them and pray for their strength and everyone's just willing to do anything they can."
Elizabeth Jones is a family friend who helped organize Monday night's event, working with local businesses who've donated food and hot chocolate.
Students from Maggie Cordova are selling ribbons they put together Monday.
Vinyl decals and balloons are also for sale.
The proceeds from this will go to the Emilie Parker Memorial Fund to help the parker family with funeral costs.
"The family's going to have a lot of expenses and I'm sure they're going to want to honor Emilie. And how they use those funds will be up to them. But there's no doubt they will do every penny justice," Jones said.
Family friends say Emilie's funeral will take place on Saturday in Utah.
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