Counseling available for returning students, staff

January 15, 2014 • Local News

Parents and children took advantage of counseling services offered at Berrendo Middle School Wednesday. Several more therapists will be on hand for those returning today.

Chaves County CASA will be one of many providers assisting mental health professionals from the schools, city and state, said Executive Director Carrie-Leigh Cloutier.

“We’ll be there in the morning to guide the kids into the school and help them with [auth] their trauma throughout the day,” Cloutier said.

CASA joined the crisis team with its trained courthouse dogs. The dogs are trained to work with traumatized children.

“It helps to reduce the (post traumatic stress disorder) that happens,” Cloutier said. “The outcomes are very good.”

One of the dogs was taken to the University Medical Center in Lubbock to stay with a family of one of the victims.

“The trauma can be pretty extreme, because there were so many witnesses,” Cloutier said.

In all, some 750 were involved, she estimated.

Parents typically know when their children are traumatized, Cloutier said. The signs they should look for are nightmares, sleeplessness or complete withdrawal.

Many children are able to work through the crisis on their own, but parents should call for help if they are worried, she said.

“There’s fear. It’s important for people just to get on with it and get back to school,” Cloutier said. “It’s important for parents not to medicate children, and to allow them to express their feelings. The school is doing a fabulous job.”

Cloutier said the best solution is for all families to return their children quickly to school and get them back to a regular schedule.

“It really is a healthy environment for all the children,” Cloutier said.

For those families who feel the children need extra time, the CASA office can see students. Call 625-0112 for information.

Turquoise Health and Wellness in Roswell held two support groups for parents and students Wednesday at its office on Mescalero. The office can be reached at 623-1480 for information on services.

Roswell Independent School District Superintendent Tom Burris held a meeting Wednesday night for Berrendo Middle School parents and students at the Roswell Convention and Civic Center. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the re-opening of the school.

One parent said she left after other parents became confrontational with the school district administration.

“Everybody’s doing the very best they can. We understand it takes time,” said the woman, who declined to give her name. The administration ”handled themselves very well. Everybody wants to know why, and there is no why.”

David Ware, a parent of an 11-year-old sixth-grader, said his daughter was still “a little shaken.” She was staying home until Tuesday.

“I think it was good. I think the parents handled it very well,” Ware said of the meeting. “Honestly, there’s not a whole lot more they can do. Installing metal detectors is not a feasible solution. It comes down to parents. The parents have to know what their children are doing.”

His daughter knew the victims and the suspect.

“She’s a little shaken,” Ware said. “She’s going to probably be talking to our pastor.”

Ware wanted to thank the police and sheriff’s departments for the way they handled the evacuation and getting the students to the buses.

“All of it was fantastically handled,” Ware said.

Tom Graham said he thought the meeting went really well.

“I think the school district, the teachers and the staff at Berrendo have done an exceptional job and continue to do so,” Graham said.

Graham is planning to take his daughter back to school today, and that she was doing well. The availability of counseling at the school was a good idea, he said.

“It’s good that they have it available for kids, if they need it,” Graham said.

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