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Letter from Principal Tim Dawkins regarding student loss

April 17, 2015

This letter was sent home with OWWMS students on April 14, 2015.

Dear Parents,
It is with profound sadness that I write this letter to let you know that one of our 7th-grade students unexpectedly passed away at his home yesterday, 4/13. Our condolences and thoughts go out to the family and friends of our student. During this time, as the school community processes the tragic news and copes with grief, we will offer counseling and bereavement support services to all of our students and staff.

A student death is a difficult and challenging situation that can generate a high level of anxiety and distress in some students. Although most adolescents have a mature understanding of death, they often view themselves as invincible and not subject to the “rules” that govern others. This might not only constitute the loss of a classmate but also may point out the reality of a child’s own mortality. In addition, children may have had no experience in coping with a loss like this and may be confused as to how to handle grief. If you feel that your children are having difficulty, we encourage you to discuss their thoughts and feelings to help them work through their grief or concerns. Please also consider monitoring and discussing your children’s communications (social media, phone, e-mail, text messaging) to further assess their potential needs.

The entire staff of the middle school embraces its mission to contribute to our students’ social/emotional development, and we will always be attentive to students’ emotional needs at school. If you feel that your children need to speak to a counselor or other adult, please do not hesitate to call the school and let us know. Additionally, you should feel free to contact the school’s counseling office (792-5891 ext. 2) for guidance on how to handle and talk about any grief or concerns that your children may be experiencing. This is a difficult time for everyone, but I know our students and staff will be able to lean on each other as they remember their classmate.


Timothy Dawkins
Oliver W. Winch Middle School Principal

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