Stillwater News Press

Local News

September 27, 2012

1:45 p.m. UPDATE: Stillwater Junior High School students, staff focus on healing

STILLWATER, Okla. — One day after a fatal shooting in a hallway at their school, 698 of 767 students returned to classes Thursday at Stillwater Junior High School.

“This number speaks volumes regarding the trust that parents and students have regarding the safety of their children in Stillwater schools,” said school Superintendent Ann Caine. “Today we are focusing on the healing process for students and staff. We have a qualified team of community counselors at the junior high who are able to provide assistance to both students and staff.”

Caine, along with other school administrators and counselors, met with junior high faculty and staff before students arrived to help them prepare to assist students after the death of 13-year-old Cade Poulos, an eighth-grader who died as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot to the head 10 minutes before classes were to begin on Wednesday.

“It was important that we addressed the needs and concerns of our staff so they would be prepared to assist students through the healing process,” she said. “This tragedy has impacted us all — students, teachers, parents and members of the Stillwater community.”

Julie Koch, counseling psychology professor at Oklahoma State University College of Education, worked with counselors from the school to address concerns of teachers regarding the incident.

“We provided teachers with a list of community counseling services and offered suggestions on how to talk with students regarding what occurred,” Koch said. “By coming back to school today and resuming their normal routine, students will have an opportunity to interact with each other and process the events of yesterday. From a counseling perspective, we know that this is one way that the healing process can take place.”

The Stillwater Board of Education met in emergency session Wednesday afternoon and determined that school and all extracurricular activities would resume Thursday.

Students who were not at school Thursday will be counted as absent, but the absence will be considered excused.

“We want our students and parents to remember that Stillwater schools are a safe place,” she said. “While yesterday’s events certainly were tragic and we are all mourning the loss of this student, it is important to remember that it was an isolated incident. Our staff worked effectively and efficiently to ensure that students were safe and out of harm’s way by following the school’s emergency procedures. Our primary concern is, and has always been, to provide a safe and secure learning environment for students.”

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