MARTINEZ -- "Aaron! Aaron! Aaron!"
Hundreds of students chanted 11-year-old Aaron Hern's name over and over, clapping and cheering at a camera in the grassy quad at the center of Martinez Junior High School on Friday afternoon.
The group of nearly 900 students, who had taken a few moments in class to rehearse, gathered with two large, colorful posters that read "Get Well Aaron" and "We Miss You," two phrases they also shouted at the top of their lungs as staff filmed them.
The video will be sent to Aaron, who is still recovering at Children's Hospital in Boston after he was severely injured in the Boston Marathon bombings on Monday. Struck by shrapnel and burned by flames, he underwent two surgeries to repair damage to his leg this week, but is steadily improving.
Aaron had gone to Boston with family and friends to watch his mother, Katherine Hern, compete in the race. He was standing near the finish line with his father, Alhambra High School football coach Alan Hern, and his 10-year-old sister, Abby, when the bombs went off. Neither his sister nor his father were injured.
It only took three takes for the bevy of students to get the perfect shot -- the kids might have got it in one, but a teacher was standing in front of the student-made signs. Students made sure to tease him with a collective booing.
When filming was completed, Principal Helen Rossi had a special update for Aaron's friends.
Aaron's father had sent her some good news via email.
"Aaron had his first meal today," she said as students began to smile and cheer. "He is doing well and is looking forward to coming home real, real soon."
Rossi and her staff have been keeping tabs on Aaron's progress, as have many supporters throughout the Bay Area.
A Massachusetts native, Rossi immediately wondered if her family and friends were safe.
"I never in a million years thought it would be one of my students," she said.
Sandra Hall, a family friend who has been with the Hern family throughout their time in Boston, said Aaron was moved out of the intensive care unit Friday morning and is feeling great.
Doctors may keep Aaron in the hospital for a few more days to give his leg time to heal. Hall confirmed that Aaron was eating -- he is happy to be chewing again, he told her -- and he even had a milkshake as a snack.
"I asked him if he was in pain, and he said yes," Hall said. "But he pointed to his heart and says he felt great in there."
Contact Katie Nelson at 925-945-4782 or follow her at Twitter.com/katienelson210.
A recovery fund has been set up by Phil and Katherine Burcell Chapman to help pay medical costs for Aaron Hern, the 11-year-old Martinez boy injured in the Boston Marathon bombings.