A Mayes County town is taking the first step in healing after deputies said a high school student murdered her classmate.
Counselors were available Friday at Chouteau-Mazie Public Schools for anyone who wanted to talk. The superintendent said there is a plan in place to help students when they go back to school next week.
Kirstan Patterson used to walk the same halls of Chouteau High School as Cheyenne Blalock. Now, Blalock is in jail, accused of first-degree murder in Patterson's death.
“Everybody knows everyone here. It's just a particularly difficult time,” Superintendent Lori Helton said.
Even though school is still out for winter break the parking lot was busy, as counselors were on standby for anyone who wanted to talk.
Helton said when students and teachers return on Monday, the district will have a team of counseling professionals ready to help. Some counselors from nearby school districts will also be volunteering their time, she said.
A group of youth pastors will be there to talk to students, too.
"It's going to be wide open. You just go. You don't have to discuss it with anyone. You're not going to have to tell your teacher. You're just going to be able to go,” Helton said.
"When something like this happens, it's devastating,” Chouteau Hills Church of Christ Minister Doug Dingley said.
Dingley said he has several students and teachers in the congregation. He encourages anyone who is struggling to pick up the phone and call him.
“We would be willing to talk to anybody at any time. It doesn't matter if it's 3:00 in the morning,” he said.
As those who knew Patterson grieve and remember her, the girl's mother, Karry, shared online, "She is my world my heart my soul and now my heart is broken into pieces."
Andrew Hall is also in the Mayes County Jail, facing a first-degree murder charge in the crime.
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If you’d like to help with funeral expenses, click here for the link to the Go Fund Me page set up by Patterson’s mother.
If you’d like to talk to the Chouteau Hills Church of Christ, the number is (918) 476-5611.