When tragedy strikes a school community CCISD is ready.
The district’s crisis team was designed to help students deal with their grief after losing a classmate.
CCISD’s crisis team showed up on the King High School campus last Friday, the day after Je’Sani Smith disappeared. They were there Monday as well; comforting students once they knew Je’Sani’s body had been found. During those two days the crisis team helped students grieve, but the healing process continues.
“Not knowing Je’Sani, I learned so much about what a light he was to everyone on his campus,” said Debra Aguilar, a Guidance Counselor a Baker Middle School and member of CCISD’s crisis team.
The district started the crisis team in 2016. The 10 person team is made up of employees from around the district. When tragedy strikes, as it did last Thursday, the crisis team responds.
“We’re definitely here, hitting the ground running the day after we find out, but then we also come back as needed,” said Aguilar.
Crisis team members are specially trained to help students through the grieving process.
“They’re doing an amazing job of being prepared, and that’s really helping us cope and support our students during these times,” said Elizabeth Perez, King High School Principal.
Perez says Je’Sani’s death affected more than just students. As a senior, Je’Sani left an impact on king faculty as well.
“It really hit home with a lot of our teachers because he’s been with us so long,” said Perez. “We’re devastated, he’s a senior, and he’s close to graduating. That’s what we’re here for, to get them to that point.”
With three classmate deaths since 2016, King students are all too familiar with grief. Their resilience in the face of tragedy has impressed the people trying to help them.
“We’re just trying to do our best to support them, but they’re doing a great job of supporting one another,” said Perez. “I’ve been very proud of that.”
The crisis team allowed students to say goodbye to Je’Sani through banners and memory rocks. Perez says the school plans to give Je’Sani ‘s parents those items.
Although the crisis team has now completed its work at the King campus, the school has counselors available for anyone, students or staff, who are still struggling with grief.