Union Academy principal speaks out about arrest in Barnes murder case
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MONROE -- Many students learned the news of the arrest in the Phylicia Barnes case as they arrived for class Thursday morning at Union Academy. It's clear what Barnes meant as a student here on campus where she is remembered through a memorial garden, as well as a planned future scholarship in her honor.
Barnes' disappearance in late 2010 and the subsequent discovery of her body in 2011 hit the tightknit Monroe school extremely hard. In the months following Barnes' disappearance and the recovery of her body in Maryland, vigils and gatherings were held in Baltimore and Monroe and purple ribbons were hung in her honor at Union Academy.
Barnes was hailed by staff members as a great student with an amazing personality and a talent inside and outside the classroom. Principal Lawrence Sullivan expressed relief that an arrest was made in the case. However, he said that doesn't erase the pain and impact which Barnes' death caused for students and staff.
"We're just glad that they made an arrest," he said. "Phylicia was taken from us last year, but we're still going to be dealing with this as a family and a community and a school and we just hope there is some closure for her family and our thoughts and our prayers always go out to her family."
The principal said there are no plans for additional counselors on campus Thursday although he praised the work counselors have done throughout the nearly year and a half ordeal since Barnes first disappeared.