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Parents, schools help students through tragedy





Heading back to classes following several snow days, students in the Ness City school system are working to cope with the loss of a friend and fellow student.

The days that followed the Feb. 15 accidental shooting death of 12-year-old Courie Cox saw community members gathering to share their common grief.

"It just helped to have us all come together and share our emotions and our feelings," said Cade Scott, one of Courie's sixth-grade teachers. "The parents in the community really did a good job of organizing some things together, and our school administration did a really good job of handling the situation."

The tragedy brought community members together to provide support for one another, said Scott and Chris Bamberger, Courie's homeroom teacher.

"When something like this happens in a community, everybody pulls so tight and rallies around people who need help," Bamberger said. "And I think that's one of the strongest qualities of small towns."

In addition, students have worked together to help one another through the sad time. Ness City eighth-graders pitched in to spend a day with the class of 26 sixth-graders after the tragedy.

"They had built a relationship with Courie," Bamberger said of the eighth-graders. "Obviously, they were hurting, too, much like the whole community.

"It was nice for them to be able to come over and express their feelings and be available to our class and other kids, too. It's always nice to talk to another kid. ... Sometimes a kid isn't comfortable talking to adults."

Following Courie's funeral Feb. 20, several snow days kept students home. When students returned to school Tuesday, Scott said, things were beginning to return to a new normal.

"But it's going to take some time because it's a small school," he said. "And everybody knows everybody. You're always reminded of her somewhere."

Her lightheartedness, sense of humor and positive outlook stood out in Scott's mind.

"She had a really good smile that lit up anybody's heart," he said.