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The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Unit No. 3 schools provide trauma counseling to students

  • HARRISBURG-- Harrisburg schools reopened today after being closed last week following Wednesday's tornado. Superintendent Dennis Smith said counselors are available to provide trauma counseling to students in each of the Unit No. 3 schools today.


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  • Harrisburg schools reopened today after being closed last week following Wednesday's tornado. Superintendent Dennis Smith said counselors are available to provide trauma counseling to students in each of the Unit No. 3 schools today.
    “Every building has something going on,” said Smith.
    Smith said he could not take a “one-size-fits-all” approach because elementary school students have very different emotional needs than high school students, so he has entrusted the decision about how to handle the disaster to individual principals in the district.
    Vice-principal at the high school, Randy Smithpeters, said they currently have four counselors available for students. Teachers are analyzing the atmosphere to see what else is needed in the high school.
    At the middle school, Principal John Crabb said an assembly was held first thing in the morning to address the tornado. Crabb said he asked students who were immediately impacted by the storm to stand, and about eight to 10 students stood. He then asked students who knew someone who was affected to stand, and every single student stood. Crabb said he thought this exercise would help build solidarity between students.
    “We're not going to snap our fingers and things go back to normal,” said Crabb. “But a disaster can't take away your character. A disaster can't take away your resolve. A disaster can't take away your will to succeed.”
    Crabb said the district social worker is available in the school today, along with two additional counselors from Egyptian Health.
    East Side Elementary School Principal Bryce Jerrell said the office has been working on compiling a list of students who were affected by the tornado and there are counselors from Egyptian Health available at the school today.
    “We're trying to take care of basic needs first,” said Jerrell.
    Jerrell said teachers have been talking to their individual classes, trying to find out which students were impacted most and who needs additional counseling. He also said he has seen an outpouring of help from the community, and has been contacted by people from as far away as California wanting to know what they can do to assist with relief efforts.
    At West Side Primary School, Principal Scott Dewar is taking a similar approach. Classroom discussions are taking place, and two counselors from the Wabash and Ohio Valley Special Education District are speaking with students.
    Dewar is also working on compiling a list of impacted students, especially those who were displaced by the tornado.

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