For the second time in three months, grief counsellors are headed to a school to help children and teachers cope with the trauma of a brazen slaying.
But Principal of the St. Albans Primary School, Wendine Prince, said her pupils have had to deal with the loss of loved one at least twice before in the last year.
She said: “We have been thrown into mourning more than one time.
“We had two students who died in succession so the school is known for this but we are strong and resilient and we will fight through this.”
Prince was referring to Azaria Worrell who lost her battle with cancer back in December 2018 and Najae Haynes who passed away late last year after a bout of illness.
But today, some of the nation’s youngest citizens were brought face to face with a rising tide of gun-fuelled violence when Marlon Holder was gunned down in front of them outside the Weston, St. James primary school.
Minister of Education Santia Bradshaw described the murder as an “assault on the education system of Barbados”.
She said: “For someone to take this step to come so close to a school without regard for students and the staff is something that none of us in the society must tolerate.
“The impact and the need to now pick up the pieces are unfair to these staff and students.
“People need to appreciate that when they carry out these acts in our society, it impacts not only the victim, but we are seeing that these senseless acts are impacting entire communities, entire families and entire households.”
But children, teachers, an education minister and her officials found themselves revisiting a grim lesson in bloodletting from a St James school, merely three months after a student at the Frederick Smith Secondary School at Trents fatally stabbed 16-year-old Temario Holder.
Said St Alban’s Principal Prince: “All students, teachers and ancillary staff will be given counselling and we will also take the time to talk to the children one on one and we will always be there to assist them in any way.
“We have chats that we will communicate with their parents if there is anything we observe we will communicate with them immediately.”
The Education Minister added: “We have already deployed the staff into the school that will continue into this afternoon and we are proposing tomorrow to continue counselling for all of our students, teachers and ancillary staff who have been impacted.
“We understand it’s going to be more difficult for some of them and we have asked them to work with each other.
“We know that some may have a harder time being able to reintegrate tomorrow to be able to help pull weight as well.”
Flanked by senior education officials, the minister revealed that a hotline had been set up at the Ministry of Education for those who may prefer to call-in for counselling instead of attending school tomorrow.
She stressed that the latest tragedy would not result in a knee-jerk reaction to an “isolated” incident.
Three months ago, after the Trents slaying, the first on school premises in over 30 years, the minister announced a raft of tight security measures, including the introduction of metal detectors and student searches at Frederick Smith. [email protected]