Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


May 1, 2014

A legacy to celebrate

Family, friends and strangers to Step Up for Colleen

Dressed in pink visors with a Sanborn School logo, about 25 teachers from the Andover elementary school where Colleen Ritzer attended the early grades will make their way to the 5K start line at The Park on Sunday.

So will a group of parents from the same elementary school who want to show their support for the Ritzer family.

A group of students — sporting their own, specially designed pink T-shirts — will travel from Stow, where the 24-year-old Ritzer landed her first teaching job out of college before going on to teach math at Danvers High School.

A preschool from Peabody will be represented as will a sizable group of Ritzer’s friends and roommates from Assumption College in Worcester. An even larger contingent will come from her hometown of Andover as well as her school community in Danvers.

And then there will be those who never knew the teacher who was murdered last October, allegedly by one of her students inside Danvers High. But they have been touched by Ritzer’s death and want to carry on her legacy.

Such is the case with a troop of young Girl Scouts from Haverhill, who will be among a few thousand or more expected to travel to Andover Sunday for the first Step Up for Colleen 5K.

Jessica McGinley, who works at the Double Tree in Danvers, said her hotel offered a corporate sponsorship. But she and her fellow leaders of Haverhill Girl Scout Troop 65340 decided to take it one step further.

Every year, the girls, who are 8 and 9 years old, do a 5K walk as a group. This year, the leaders, including Jean Savvas, Melissa Piraino as well as McGinley, proposed they register for the one in memory of Ritzer.

“A lot of our girls want to be teachers and be an inspiration to others,” McGinley said. “We thought this would be a good opportunity for them.

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