PIQUA — Adolescence is a particularly difficult time to deal with the loss of a loved one — especially a peer. As such, it is important to provide teens with an outlet for the myriad emotions they experience during such times.
Piqua City Schools administrators recognized this need immediately following the death of 16-year-old Piqua High School student Zachary McDaniel, who drowned while fishing on Sunday.
Counselors were made available to the student body on Monday, according to PCS Superintendent Dwayne Thompson.
“Yesterday, all day, we had all of our counselors on hand, as well as former guidance counselor Mr. Bostick,” Thompson said, referring to Clint Bostick, who served as a counselor with the district for 17 years and now sits on the board of education.
Thompson praised both Bostick and Piqua Mayor Kazy Hinds, who volunteered to speak with the students after hearing about McDaniel’s death.
“I texted Kazy and practically before I hit the button, she wrote back right away asking, ‘What can I do?’” he said. “She was amazing with the kids.”
Thompson said the counselors drew “a fair number of kids,” with some preferring one-on-one sessions, while others formed small groups to discuss and remember McDaniel.
“What I saw was students moving from the anguish and surprise of losing someone so suddenly in an accident to them reflecting on the values of friendship,” Thompson said. “Obviously, they were sad and reflecting on the loss, which turned to remembering the laughs and fun times they had with Zach.”
The death of a classmate also drove home the harsh reality that teens are not as invincible as they sometimes think, Thompson noted, but moreover, it impressed upon them “how important friendship really, really is.”
The counseling staff at PHS will be available the remainder of the week for grieving students, Thompson said.
At Fusion: A Spiritual Community, located at 421 Broadway in Piqua, an open chapel was held on Monday that drew some 80 people over the course of about two and a half hours to pay their respects to McDaniel, Pastor Karen Jamison said.
“Basically, we opened the doors so kids has a place to come and be with each other to grieve. It was kind of impromptu,” Jamison said. “We had kids and adults show up.”
Fusion will open its doors again at 3:30 p.m. today, with pastors on hand for anyone needing consolation or counseling, she added.
Anyone wishing to donate food or snacks for the gathering is welcome to do so.
Reach Belinda M. Paschal at (937) 451-3341