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Schools rocked by two student deaths
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Excerpt from the letter sent to parents:

When reacting to a death, a child may display behaviors such as the following:

·         Clings close to adults

·         Displays regressive behaviors

·         Appears not to be affected

·         Thinks about it privately

·         Asks a lot of questions

·         Appears frightened

·         Appears agitated and angry

·         Appears sad and withdrawn

·         Displays difficulty sleeping

 We suggest you listen to your children.  If they seem to need to talk, answer their question simply, honestly and possibly over and over again.  Below are some suggestions that you may find useful in helping your child deal with the death:

·         Assure fearful children that you will be there to take care of them.  Reassure them many times.

·         Provide physical closeness.  Spend extra time putting your child to bed.  Talk and offer reassurance.

·         Encourage children to ask questions and to discuss, write or draw their feelings.

·         Be a good listener.  Listen carefully for any misconceptions or distortions the student may have regarding what happened.

·         Talk with your child and provide simple, accurate information to questions. 

·         Provide play and fun experiences to relieve tension.

·          Help the child develop safety plans and procedures (What should you do if …………..?)

·         Remind them of concrete examples of where they are being protected and cared for by parents, adults, teachers, police, etc.

·         Make sure the child gets rest and exercise.

Students and faculty at Salem High School and Hightower Elementary School were dealt a heavy blow this week with the loss of a SHS senior and HTE fourth grader in separate incidents.

"We are saddened by the deaths of two of our RCPS students and our thoughts are with their families and friends during this difficult time," wrote Rockdale County Public Schools spokesperson Cindy Ball. "We are providing counseling services to students, staff, and families who may need additional support, and have provided parents with information on grieving in a letter sent home with students."

The names and details of the students are being withheld until the families request it to be released, said Ball.

Hightower Trail Elementary administration sent out a recorded message Tuesday about the 10-year-old female student, who reportedly died Monday at Rockdale Medical Center.

Grief counselors were made available to students on Tuesday and Wednesday and students were also given a letter to take home about the signs of grieving and tips on how to handle grieving behavior.

No foul play was reportedly suspected in the incident, according to Rockdale County Sheriff's Office personnel.

The Salem High School senior was reportedly rushed by ambulance to Atlanta Medical Center Monday around 7 p.m. where he later died.

Principal Tonya Bloodworth reportedly sent out a message about the student on Tuesday.

Friends and classmates have turned the student's Facebook page into a virtual memorial, grieving over his loss, offering prayers. The posts described him as a quiet, one-of-a-kind person and classmates recalled him classes such as calculus.

"I have known him for four years now," said one Salem senior to the News. "It was a complete shock for the students including myself that knew him as well as the teachers that he became really close to. It's going to take a while for many of us to accept what has happened and move on."

"May all your pain be gone and I promise you, I will always take care of the family," wrote another friend on the Facebook wall.

Funeral services for the Salem student will be held Saturday noon at Stronghold Christian Church, 724 Rock Chapel Road, Lithonia.