Many people were glued to their favourite news broadcaster as reports came out on Oct. 22 about a shooting at Parliament.
A lone gunmen shot and killed Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, who was guarding the War Memorial in Ottawa, before heading towards the Parliament building where he was later killed by Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers.
That same morning, three teens from Strathmore were in the area while on tour with the Encounters with Canada group. There were four busses of students, two had previously stopped at the memorial and the other two were on their way to it.
"I had passed by and I had seen the soldiers and I had taken pictures of the memorial from the back, so I hadn't seen it yet, but I was on my way back about maybe 30 seconds before the shooting occurred, maybe half a block away," said Jaimie Betterton, a Strathmore High School (SHS) student.
She said her tour guide, as soon as the shooting happened, was very open about it. The bus was about a block away and was quickly rerouted, dropping off the tour guide before heading to the dorms.
"So when we were driving back, right after she told us that, we had turned the corner. You just saw all the ambulances, all the cops and the city was just immediately evacuated within a matter of minutes," said Betterton. "My main (thought) was 'oh my gosh, it's in Canada.' You hear about it in other places, but (not) it actually being where you are and considering Canada is home."
Halee Grimsdale, a student with SHS, was on a different bus at the same time. The students on her bus started looking up at what was happening, and when they heard the shooter was headed towards Parliament they panicked a bit.
"We were all kind of in a panic on the bus, (thinking) what's happening ... that's where we were supposed to go next," said Grimsdale.
Back at the dorm the girls were reunited and were watching the news with the other students, when the fire alarm went off. It caused some panic because the students were told they were on lockdown, and then they were told to evacuate the building.
"We're already panicking about 'oh my gosh this guys on the loose, some psycho' and now we're out here and something is wrong with our building ... I didn't feel safe at all at that time," said Betterton.
The evacuation didn't last long, and fortunately the students were allowed back inside. They were then on lockdown for the rest of the day and most of Thursday.
For Deb Betterton, when she got the text from Jaimie, she felt helpless being across the country.
"I just wanted her home," said Deb, who had even called Encounters to see if the kids could come home early. "My main concern was the safety, not only of mine, but of all the young kids that were there ... and really living out here in the west, you hear about this stuff in the east or anywhere in the country and its easy to turn a blind eye. Until there's some sort of correlation, until you have someone who's there, you have a connection there. It was scary."
She said she didn't actually break down until Jaimie sent her the picture of the back of the War Memorial, then it really hit home for her and she thought about what could have happened and how different the day could have been.
"I thank God that my daughter wasn't there, but the possibility of her being there was very high, it was a matter of timing," said Deb.
Both girls said they were only minutes away from the memorial when it happened.
On Thursday, the group went to the cemetery, and originally they were going to light candles and set up memorials for the soldiers who have died in the past, but because of the events of the previous day, they then laid a special memorial for Cirillo.
"I'm still overwhelmed I think, coming to school I've had so many questions about it," said Jaimie. "I don't think anybody will ever really understand it from our perspective, even if we tell it over and over again. I think her perspective is different than mine because we were on different busses. I was like literally down the street."
Though some of the events were obviously cancelled because of the shooting, the girls did both get to take part in a number of exciting activities. They were there for the medicine and health week and went to the Cancer Research Centre, where they did some hands on work; they took part in workshops and cultural activities like African dancing. St. Johns Ambulance came and taught them about first aid. They listened to different speakers and took part and workshops, and prior to the shooting, they did get the chance to go to Parliament and listen to Stephen Harper speak.
While the trip was a bit more than they both had bargained for, they would both love the opportunity to go back and see what some of the other programs offered are.