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Grief aid offered at school

October 30, 2012
By Anthony Gaynor and Beth Christian Broschart (Staff Writers) , The Inter-Mountain

Tygarts Valley High School students were met Monday morning by counselors and support services to help them cope with the loss of classmate Dustin "Dusty" White.

White died Friday following an altercation with another student outside Bulldog Field prior to the TVHS and Hundred football match up.

Police apprehended a suspect in the stabbing death, and he is lodged in a juvenile facility, officials said. The suspect's name has not been released because he is a juvenile.

"It is a sad day in Randolph County," Dr. James Phares, superintendent of Randolph County schools, said a press conference Monday at the Randolph County Board of Education offices. "But it's a day that we are starting to pick ourselves up and to move forward."

Phares said the school system began mobilizing support services following a planning team meeting on Sunday. He said the school system began its crisis intervention based on guidance from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network details and guidelines.

West Virginia State Police and Randolph County Sheriff's Department officers were on scene at the school when students began to arrive Monday to help prevent any issues.

"We had officers in the school this morning to make sure there were no problems," said Sgt. G.L. Stalnaker of the Elkins State Police detachment.

"When kids entered the school they were subdued and quiet," Phares said, adding students are usually louder and talkative when they first arrive at the building.

The start of the school day included an assembly featuring counselors talking with students about resources available and pastors offering words of relief and prayer. Teachers and support staff were also on site to host discussions with students.

"The mission of the school was to provide grief support for the students," he said.

Phares said the counseling and grief services were expanded to include the Randolph Technical Center and Homestead Elementary School. White was a student at both TVHS and the RTC, and had family members at the elementary school.

"The mission of the schools was to provide support for the students," Phares said. "Teachers and counselors are trained to find (and help) students under duress.

"I would like to express my deep appreciation to the Youth Health Services Agency, Appalachian Mental Health and the many local pastors and their youth counselors who have come on scene and helped with the situation this morning," Phares said.

Phares said many of the students at the school dressed in camouflage Monday to show respect for White, who was an "avid woodsman."

"Tygarts Valley High School has 523 students and is a small, close-knit school. It, like most schools, has trials and issues, but nothing to this magnitude," Phares said. "The administration has met with the parents of the deceased. They are like the rest of us and are looking for answers."

Phares said the school day ended early because of the severe storm sweeping the state. He said staff and support services conducted a debriefing at the end of the day, with teachers expressing gratitude for assistance and the presence of law enforcement.

Phares said students throughout the day expressed concern for White and empathy for the alleged suspect. Phares said support services will continue throughout the week for students who may be in need.

School has been cancelled for Tygarts Valley High/Middle School students Friday to allow them to attend the funeral of their fallen classmate. The viewing for White is slated from 1-9 p.m. Thursday at the Randolph Funeral Home in Valley Bend. The funeral will be 11 a.m. Friday at the funeral home.



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