Death likely to rattle students
EAGLE – Red Canyon High School canceled afternoon classes Thursday afternoon in the wake of the death of one of their own. Teachers and counselors at the Eagle and Edwards campuses of the alternative high school dealt with their own grief over the loss of 16-year-old Joseph Creek while trying to console their students. Creek, a sophomore at Red Canyon, died after being hit by an ambulance Wednesday night. For many of the teenagers at Red Canyon, it was likely the first time they’ve had to deal with the death of a peer, said Jan Abbott, a counselor at Battle Mountain High School. And as it happens, their innocence is diminished. “It’s a harsh reality to learn at that age, when you’re so full of life and feel like those things couldn’t happen to you, that you’re kind of invisible,” Abbott said. “It can be very shocking to them.” Creek’s death could bring up issues even for students who weren’t well acquainted with him, Abbott said. “Like if the kids are prone to depression, it makes it that much more significant,” she said. “It depends on how well-adjusted they are to begin with. Or a kid could be dealing with their own loss, and this sparks up all those feelings of loss and grief, even if it’s not linked to that person.”The death of a young person is often harder to handle because many times it could have been prevented, Abbott said. People are faced with the sense that it wasn’t Creek’s time to go. “It makes (teenagers) think it could happen to them,” Abbott said. “And that’s hard to deal with when you’re a teenager.” Counselors at Red Canyon are offering strategies to cope with the loss, which could include constructing a memorial to Creek, writing letters and just being there to listen to the students’ concerns and feelings. Counselors are also on the lookout for anyone who has an unusual reaction to Creek’s death.”Everyone is just very sad,” said Melinda Gladitsch, spokeswoman for Eagle County School District. “Everyone just tried to do whatever they can do to assist the family where appropriate and the school that’s most affected. We’re just standing by.” Classes resumed Friday, though counselors remained on the campuses.
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