As is inevitable at a high school with a large student body, students occasionally pass away, whether by illness or violence.
Perry Meridian High School saw the deaths of two students in the last six months. Over the summer, Dantez Smith was shot and killed, with no formal announcement made in regards to his death. More recently, Oswin Ortiz was also shot and killed, and an announcement was made by principal Kert Boedicker at the end of the day on September 13th.
However, the inconsistency in the forwarding of information demands that a formal policy be put in place to ensure student and staff alike are informed of these incidents.
“We do not have a specific policy, though we do understand the need for it,” assistant principal Lauren Buesking says.
Measures to inform students of their classmates’ deaths need to be taken to ensure students have proper help available to deal with grief. Moreover, addressing their deaths allows students to gain closure.
Ignoring their passing, however, only amplifies the taboo nature of adolescent death and impairs students’ ability to move forward.
According to Southport High School principal Brian Knight, Southport has a formal policy regarding the recognition of student death that informs teachers of the death and asks them to send any distraught students to the counselors. Perry needs a similar process.
Boedicker’s recent acknowledgement of Ortiz’s death is a first step towards opening up the dialogue about difficult topics, such as death, which would lead to a healthier school community.
The FOCUS staff hopes for a formal plan to be developed.