By BRIAN KOELLER
Published: Tuesday, March 3, 2009 10:03 AM EST
The recent tragic deaths of two Napoleon High School students has grief counselors ready, but one local professional said recovery will take time for those who knew the students.
“We might see some response immediately, or it could be two weeks from now,” said Pheobe Hanover, community service director for First Call for Help. “It depends on what the school offers and how parents handle it.”
Monday afternoon, the district released the following statement after the deaths of junior Michael Kruse and freshman BreLyn Ward in unrelated incidents:
“Our staff and students grieve the loss of these two young people, and we extend our heartfelt condolences to their families. In the days ahead, we will be engaged in our own healing as we will have school counselors and other local mental health representatives available to any students and staff member desiring aid in the grieving process.”
“Right now, the counselors in the school take care of the immediate need but kids sometimes can take longer to process this type of thing,” Hanover said. “We’re here as the long-term support.”
Hanover said this could apply to parents as well, who may not know how to communicate with their children about the students’ deaths.
Monday night, Napoleon Council President Glenn Miller expressed his sympathy for the families. Mayor Andy Small, who has two teen children in the district, said he made a point of talking with his children.
“I just asked them if there was anything they wanted to talk about,” Small said.
During Monday’s Napoleon Area Schools board work session, a moment of silence was observed for the two students.
“Anytime there’s a loss of our students, we’re struck in different ways,” said Superintendent Dr. Al Haschak. “I think we’ll be OK ... It’ll be a rough couple of weeks for us.”
Board President Larry Long said he feels the situations were handled the best they could under the circumstances.
“That’s a very, very, very tough issue for everyone,” he said.
Hanover said this time of year is usually a slow time for teen calls to the help line, but she stressed First Call for Help has staff on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“If they call the teen line it’s confidential and anonymous, unless there’s a threat made,” Hanover said. “They can just call and talk.”
She added teens call to talk about various topics, from relationship problems with peers and parents, to questions about sex. Recently, there has been an increase in teens calling because they are concerned about their family’s financial situation.
Teens, or others, can also walk into the First Call for Help Center at 600 Freedom Drive in Napoleon.
(NWS Staff Writer Jen Lazenby contributed to this report.)
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