Students at Coweta Intermediate High School were back in class Tuesday, a day after police say 15-year-old freshman Triston Stephens committed suicide in a school bathroom.
As parents dropped their kids off before school, there was a very somber tone. There weren't kids out in front of the school laughing, no one playing. Everyone kind of filed into school, just 24 hours after one of their classmates took his own life.
Superintendent Jeff Holmes said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon that attendance was at near normal rates, and "better than expected" at the ninth grade center.
"The support for our students and staff has been tremendous," he said. "Our local community is so supportive of our students and staff. On behalf of Coweta Public Schools, I want to thank everyone who has extended their thoughts, prayers and good deeds to us."
See his full statement below.
Before school started, we caught an impromptu moment on camera, about a half an hour before school started. It was a gathering of maybe around 100 kids. They were getting together in a circle, holding hands.
It looked like they may have been praying.
We know that was not an officially planned event - the school district says there is nothing official planned on Tuesday to commemorate the life of Triston Stephens.
We did talk to Coweta Police Department; they tell us that they do expect increased campus security.
Folks around town who aren't necessarily connected with the Intermediate High say the community is rocked by this tragedy.
We spoke with the grandfather of a boy who goes to the high school.
"Right now I'm just kind of in shock. Yesterday, when I had to go get my grandson from school, I was just walking around in a state of shock. Just didn't know what to think," said Jerry Tennison.
Classes and bus schedules will run as normal throughout the district but of course, this is an anything but normal day. There will be three to four counselors across the Intermediate High School helping students begin to cope with this terrible tragedy.
Statement from Coweta Superintendent of Schools Jeff Holmes:
Students at all eight school sights of Coweta Public Schools returned to school today following an extremely difficult day. Attendance is near normal rates at all sites with the exception of the Intermediate High School where attendance is better than expected. Approximately fifty students more than normal were not in attendance.
More than twenty additional counselors were scattered throughout the school district today to meet the needs of students and staff. The majority of those counselors were assisting inside the Intermediate High School.
Counselors from the surrounding school districts of Bixby, Broken Arrow, Porter, Oktaha, and Hilldale were used as well as various other crisis teams. Multiple other school districts and agencies are currently on stand by and may be used in upcoming days. We plan to have additional counselors available as long as necessary.
The support for our students and staff has been tremendous. Our local community is so supportive of our students and staff. On behalf of Coweta Public Schools, I want to thank everyone who has extended their thoughts, prayers, and good deeds to us.