Statement from Wicomico County Public Schools
Statement from Wicomico County Public Schools Following Death of Student
Posted on 11/07/2017

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The Wicomico County Public School System works to support all students as they grow and learn. We are deeply saddened when a student’s life is cut short. We grieve along with the family, friends, Parkside High and Pittsville Elementary and Middle schools, and the community at the loss last weekend of a ninth-grade Parkside student who died by what is presumed to be suicide.

The schools, with support from the school system, have responded to this heartbreaking loss with counseling services, compassion, and a willingness to listen. The school the student was attending, Parkside High, has been in close contact with the student’s mother since this tragic event occurred, and she has expressed her appreciation for the school’s communications to parents. She has also stated her agreement with the school’s decision not to hold a moment of silence. While the celebration of the student’s life will be held at the Pittsville Volunteer Fire Department from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, both schools were willing to serve as a setting for services.

Parkside is striving to balance many requests for remembrance with respect for the wishes of the family and other concerns, including the welfare of the entire school community. On Monday, friends who wished to have a special setting at the lunch table to remember their former classmate were supported in doing so. Many friends wore T-shirts personalized with the student’s picture, while students and staff throughout Parkside showed solidarity by wearing green. While some have suggested a moment of silence would be appropriate, many experts in the field of student suicide prevention and response recommend against a school sponsoring memorial or commemorative activities immediately after a student’s death. The National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement, for example, states that a more effective focus for a school after a student suicide is supporting the development of meaningful, thoughtful activities after the immediate crisis; this may be more therapeutic for students and staff. Parkside will work to honor and remember this student, while respecting the wishes of the family.

Efforts to provide support will continue to take place in this difficult time. Please know that the doors of the school administration, teachers and counseling staff of Parkside High School and Pittsville Elementary and Middle School will remain open to those who may need support.