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March 26, 2012 05:03 PM

Counselors Help Mitchell Students Cope

Mitchell, SD

It's a painful lesson no parent wants their child to experience, especially at such a young age.

Monday, children at Gertie Belle Rogers Elementary School learned how to deal with the death of a friend. It was the first day back to school after police say a drunk driver killed nine-year-old Iszabella Morgan.

The school started making plans to help students with the loss Sunday, less than 24 hours after the crash, when they called all the parents in Bella Morgan's classroom so they could talk with their children directly about the tragedy.

Monday, a half-dozen school counselors were on hand when the elementary students returned to class.

"There are a lot of tears. It's a very difficult day.  But frankly, our faculty, our staff, are doing a great job helping the kids even though they, themselves, are going through a real grief process," Mitchell Superintendent Joe Graves said.

School officials allowed parents in Bella's classroom to tell their children first.  All day Monday they had school counselors helping with the grieving process because it can be hard to grasp this kind of loss at a young age.

"They're struggling, they're grieving, and for many of them, this is that first experience with that grief and they need to be helped to work through that," Graves said.

The school is not only working with the third graders who knew Bella well, but they are also offering help to other classes because the nine-year-old had touched many others.

"Iszabella was, frankly, a very gregarious student who loved music and dance.  So, she knew a lot of kids who weren't in her grade as well. Those children were also affected," Graves said.

And they'll continue to help those students who were affected in the future, as they try to deal with the loss of their classmate and friend.

Graves says by Monday afternoon only one counselor was needed at the elementary school Bella attended, but more may be needed later in the week when the funeral services are held for her.

Izabella Morgan's visitation is scheduled for Wednesday from 6-8 p.m. at the Will Funeral Chapel with a prayer service at 7 p.m.  Her funeral is scheduled for Thursday at 11 a.m. at Holy Family Catholic Church. 

A memorial fund is set up in her name at US Bank in Mitchell.

For more information on the services or to sign a guestbook, visit the Will Funeral Chapel's website.

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