Bentonville School Prepares Grief Counseling for Dead Kindergartner

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Sugar Creek Elementary principal Pam Blair met with her Crisis Response Team on Sunday to prepare on how tell their students that kindergartner Jersey Bridgman died.

The six year old was found dead Tuesday and law enforcement agencies continue to investigate to find the little girl's killer.

"With Elementary kids, they trust us so we want to do our best to keep the support system here as much as we can," Blair said.

The Crisis Response Team is made up of counselors, the assistant principal and a school district's social worker.

Blair said kindergarten students are a priority.

"We know that you don't lie to children, but we need to answer the questions that we know and right now we don't know a lot," Blair said.

The school has two counselors on staff and counselors throughout the school district are on standby, if needed.

Superintendent Michael Poore said the district had been in contact with Sugar Creek officials throughout the weekend by email and phone.

"There's a wide variance of knowledge about this incident, but we want to be real and say that they did lose a classmate and that we are mourning that," Poore said.

Poore said they have researched strategies from other school districts to help them cope with the murder of one of its students.

Poore said teachers are provided a script as guidance to prepare them for tough questions.

"Basic things saying here are some things we know we want to say that we did in fact lose a student here, that we feel bad about that," Poore said. "We all need to rally around each other."

The school will use several books as resources including “A Terrible Thing Happened: A Story for Children Who Have Witnessed Violence or Trauma" by Margaret M. Holmes.

"There are terrible things that happened to us and that's a part of life, then we have to make sure we are able to move on and figure out the best ways to move forward," Poore said.

Blair said they will take it day by day as Jersey's classmates come back to an empty chair and a missing friend. 

"Our job is to support them in their education and their emotional needs at this point," Blair said.

The school plans to send out a letter to parents detailing what they will tell the children. They will also provide contact information in case parents have questions.

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