Students at Stillwater Junior High School resumed classes Thursday morning following a tragic incident involving the death of a student from a self-inflicted gunshot wound at the school on Wednesday.
Dr. Ann Caine, Stillwater Public Schools Superintendent, reported that 698 of 767 students were at the school today.
"This number speaks volumes regarding the trust that parents and students have regarding the safety of their children in Stillwater schools," Caine said. "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."
The school will offer these services for as long as students and staff express a need, she added.
Caine, along with other school administrators and counselors, met with junior high faculty and staff prior to students arriving on campus this morning.
"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 explained. "This tragedy has impacted us all - students, teachers, parents and members of the Stillwater community."
Julie Koch, Counseling Psychology professor from Oklahoma State University College of Education, worked closely with counselors from the school to address concerns of teachers regarding the incident and help prepare them for the students return this morning.
"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."
Caine said the school district determined Wednesday that it was important for students to return to classes and extracurricular activities today. Students who were not at school today will be counted as absent, but the absence will be considered as 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."
Caine added the school district deeply appreciates the outpouring of support in the Stillwater community and across the state.
A list of community counseling services are available on the Stillwater Public Schools website at www.stillwaterschools.com