Slender Man Stabbing Victim Returns to School

Slender Man Stabbing Victim Returns to School
The 12-year-old survivor amid cards from well-wishers
Courtesy Hearts for Healing

09/04/2014 AT 12:30 PM EDT

The 12-year-old Wisconsin girl stabbed 19 times by her friends in a twisted plot to honor the fictional character Slender Man was "excited" and "ready to learn" as she went back to school, a family spokesman says.

The pre-teen started seventh grade at Horning Middle School in Waukesha, Wisconsin, on Tuesday after a summer that included as many as eight doctor's appointments a week and physical and emotional therapy – but also leisurely joys like cookouts, fishing, playing with her pets and hunting the mall for the latest fashions, spokesman Steve Lyons tells PEOPLE.

Her first day back in class was "fantastic," Lyons says. "She was ready."

So much so that on a shopping list her parents keep on the refrigerator, she wrote "school supplies" at the bottom. "She wasn't nervous or scared," Lyons says. "She was ready all summer."

On her first day in class, "she jumped right in," he says, calling her "an academic, smart girl" who plans to continue volunteering at an animal shelter and get involved in music activities. Being back in school "creates some sense of normalcy," he adds. "She likes seeing her friends. She likes seeing her teachers."

The girl, who hasn't been publicly identified, was stabbed May 31 after a sleepover with the accused, one of whom she'd known since fourth grade, Lyons says. The two have said they planned their attack to impress Slender Man, a ghostlike fictional character. According to a criminal complaint, one said she thought that if she killed someone, she could go live with Slender Man, Reuters reports.

The victim suffered 11 wounds to her arms and legs and eight to her torso, including her heart, lungs and pancreas, Lyons says.

"Many of these were nearly fatal," he says. "The doctors talk about a sliver, a millimeter, between life and death."

The girl spent two and a half weeks in the hospital before being released to continue her recovery at home. At first, she couldn't bend over to tie her shoes, open or close doors or push or pull much weight, but now, "they expect a full physical recovery," Lyons says.

The girl continues to see an individual counselor to deal with the emotional after-effects of the attack, and her parents and 10-year-old brother see a separate family counselor, he says.

"This was a horrific, horrific attack," Lyons says. "The emotional scars and recovery are something that could take some time."

But the girl is holding up well. "She's a strong little girl," he says.

In between all her medical appointments, the girl enjoyed some typical summer fun, including outdoor activities, playing with her dog, two cats and Gecky the gecko, visiting with family and friends and spending one particularly fun daddy-daughter night out to a Disney movie, complete with a treat from the snack bar, Lyons says.

The community continues to rally around the family. On Friday, a brat-fest fundraiser brought in $70,000 to help with medical bills, Lyons says. People have also donated online.

Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier, both 12, have been charged as adults with first-degree attempted homicide in the attack. Geyser has been ruled not mentally competent to stand trial.

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