Colleen Ritzer, 24, of Andover, a math teacher at Danvers High School, was found dead Oct. 22. Authorities believe one of her students, Philip Chism, 14, attacked and robbed Ritzer in a second-floor bathroom at the school, then wheeled her in a recycling bin to a wooded area nearby, where he assaulted her and left her under a pile of leaves and debris.
Police found a note next to Ritzer’s body that read, “I hate you all.”
More than 1,000 people filled St. Augustine Church in Andover on Oct. 27 for Ritzer’s funeral Mass.
Chism, of Danvers, pleaded not guilty last month to charges of first-degree murder, aggravated rape and armed robbery. The case is scheduled to continue Jan. 30 in Salem Superior Court for a status hearing.
Youth center go-ahead
Town Meeting voted to support a critical piece of funding for the Cormier Youth Center by voting to split a $1.4 million trust between elderly programming and Andover Youth Services. The $700,000 helped push the youth center project closer to completion as town officials looked for an early October ground-breaking. By October, however, the youth center hit a snag as the project’s lowest bidder pulled out at the last minute. By December, it was announced that the youth center construction would be delayed into the spring, although a contract was awarded.
Charter school proposed
In August, a wave of charter school proposals at the state level unveiled a pitch by School Committee member David Birnbach to create STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) Studio in Andover. As opposition to the idea began to grow, Birnbach vowed to maintain his role on the School Committee, while ethics concerns were raised from fellow committee members. A state forum on the charter school in November drew a capacity crowd that both praised and blasted the proposal as the process continues to move forward.