Classes resumed Thursday at Stillwater Junior High School, just one day after the death of an eighth grader at the school.
Thirteen-year-old Cade Poulos took his own life with a handgun just before 8 a.m. Wednesday. The tragic self-inflicted shooting occurred in a hallway of the school in front of some students and faculty members.
Dr. Ann Caine, Stillwater Public Schools Superintendent, reported that 698 of 767 students attended school on Thursday.
"This number speaks volumes regarding the trust that parents and students have regarding the safety of their children in Stillwater schools," Caine said. "Today we are focusing on the healing process for students and staff. We have a qualified team of community counselors at the junior high who are able to provide assistance to both students and staff."
The district met Wednesday evening and decided to hold classes as usual. Following that decision, a vigil was held for Poulos at the Highland United Methodist Church.
Caine, along with other school administrators and counselors, met with junior high faculty and staff Thursday morning before the students arrived on campus.
"It was important that we addressed the needs and concerns of our staff so they would be prepared to assist students through the healing process," she explained. "This tragedy has impacted us all – students, teachers, parents and members of the Stillwater community."
The school plans to offer the counseling services for as long as students and staff need it.
"We provided teachers with a list of community counseling services and offered suggestions on how to talk with students regarding what occurred," said Julie Koch, Counseling Psychology professor from Oklahoma State University College of Education. "By coming back to school today and resuming their normal routine, students will have an opportunity to interact with each other and process the events of yesterday."
Students who did not attend school on Thursday will be counted absent but that absence will be considered excused.
"We want our students and parents to remember that Stillwater schools are a safe place," Caine said. "While yesterday's events certainly were tragic and we are all mourning the loss of this student, it is important to remember that it was an isolated incident."
The family of the victim has not said whether or not this was a case of bullying and there has been no official word on the cause. Police are still investigating.