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Hays Free Press
Kyle, Texas
March 29, 2017     Hays Free Press
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March 29, 2017

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AGING SURVEY Buda looks for resources its aging population. for - Page 1C Hays Free Press March 29, 2017 Page 3B BY MOSES LEOS III Trying to lend a helping hand to Hays CISD stu- dents and staff coping with loss is an all too familiar occtlr- fence for Charlotte Winkelman, the distr[ct's director of guidance and counseling. With the assistance of a dedi- cated plan and numerous staff members, Winklemann and her team support many who grieve during difficult circumstances. Such was the case last week as the Hays CISD community mourned the loss of Brynn Aylor, who was killed in a tragic ac- cident. Winkleman said the initial ap- proach to such events is to begin instilling the district's crisis plan, which involves the help of a "core group" of counselors who have experience in dealing with grief. Within the plan, the district's counseling team sets up differ- ent rooms where they can meet with students. In the event of a student or teacher passing away, the district will follow their re- spective schedules and have two counselors on hand to escort students to a dedicated counsel- ing area. Teachers and staff are also given a counseling room and are allowed to talk with counselors on an individual or group basis. W'mkleman said the district has an employee assistance program that allows free counseling as- sistance to staff members. The team also begins talking with staff members to provide guidelines on what to do, and not to do, in the classroom fol- lowing a death or accident. One of the key attributes is "In the moment, people write and do things and put photos online ... They don't know who's reading those and how it's going to affect someone's life." - Charlotte Winkelman, HCISD director of guidance and counseling having students and staff remi- nisce in a positive light about the student or staff member who passed away. "We allow them to grieve, but we do not allow them to talk about details if it's an accident," Winkleman said. lot of times they are under investigation." The team also guides students and staff on social media eti- quette. In many circumstances, social media is where informa- tion that is not fact and is more drama surrounding a traumatic event can build, Winkleman said. She added the district does its best to teach social media etiquette to students. "But in the moment, people write and do things and put photos online," Winkleman said. "They don't know who's reading those and how it's going to affect someone's life." Winkleman said the counsel- ing team then sends an email blast to all counselors in the district and to the Community in Schools staffto be on "high alert" that they may be needed to help. Aylor's death brings this coun- seling plan to the forefront as her death affected two schools and touched "a lot of lives" within the district. Helping students prepare for the return of siblings who are affected by tragedy is also a plan of action. Winldeman said counselors instruct students on what to say and not to say to a grieving fam- ily member. In some instances, some classrooms will make a card for those who are grieving. For younger students, reading books on death or grieving in a group setting is a method coun- selors will employ to discuss a tragedy or death. Sit-down floor conversations is the route taken for older elementary school students. Counselors approach middle school students with classroom guidance while high school students are spoken with on an individual basis. In addition, counselors con- tact students who may be at-risk following a tragedy. The parents of at-risk students are also con- tacted, in order to ensure they are keeping an eye on them, Winkleman said. After a week or so, the district offers grief groups in which students can speak with coun- selors. In addition, Winkleman and her staff monitor the Hays Hopeline, which is a confiden- tiai way for students and parents to report personal crisis. Building an "army of support" around grieving students is what Winkleman stresses to parents. She also encouraged parents to contact the district or respec- tive school if they begin to see signs that their student is at-risk, or ffthey wish to check on them as well. W'mkleman said constant communication with students is a key element for parents when tragic circumstances arise. How- ever, she said parents should avoid expressing feelings flit could make the situation worse. "Be there for the child and always listen," Winkleman said. PHOTO COURTESY OF JOHNNIE GREEN SUBMITTED REPORT Lehman High School's Winter Guard placed second at the WGI San Antonio Regional in the prelims round, winning the General Effect Caption less than a point behind :World championship Finalist San Antonio Reagan HS), coming out fifth of 29 overall in Scholastic A Prelims, then placing 6th of the 15 Finalists. Director Johnnie Green said, "It was the highest placement in history for the program leaping past a number of world championship finalists." For the experience of performing at the national level, the Lobo JV competed in a higher division than normal. The JV team hit a new record score at a Regional. The Lobos host the WGI Austin Regional this weekend, the seventh consecutive year to do so. The event's growth has necessitated a "two site" contest, with the Scholastic A Prelims being held at Hays High School. Green said, "It's one of the largest and most competitive Prelims in the country with the contest becoming known as the 'Hunger Games' of Scholastic A! If you reach the top three here, a team can probably win at the World championship." SUBMITTED REPORT Hays High School's Winter Guard took home the Gold Medal in the Region A Class at the Texas ColOr Guard Circuit West State Champion- ships. The Lehman High School JVWinter Guard earned bronze in the Novice class. As a result of their respective showings, both groups earn "promotion" for next year's competitive sea- son, making history for both programs. PHOTO BY VERONICA MARTINEZ 4 it!