GRIEF COUNSELING: School provides support in wake of student’s death

Published 7:37 pm Tuesday, March 17, 2015

CHOCOWINITY — In response to the tragic death of Southside High School student Stone Prechtl on Sunday night, Beaufort County Schools has provided support and counseling to students and faculty.

Prechtl, a sophomore at SHS, died Sunday night at approximately 8:40 p.m. after running off the road on N.C. Highway 33 at the Pitt-Beaufort County line, just outside of Grimesland. Officials with the N.C. State Highway Patrol estimated Prechtl had to have been driving close to 100 mph at the time of the accident and was not wearing a seatbelt.

Monday at SHS, Beaufort County Schools Office of Student Services had grief counselors on hand at the school as a support for faculty and students, according to Nicole Howard, director of BCS Student Services. The county office sends counselors to the school in the event students and faculty want to talk about their feelings, Howard said. BCS currently has around 21 counselors that serve a student population of over 7,000.

“Any time we feel like students might need to talk, we feel it’s important to make student services personnel available to our students,” Howard said. “The counselors are in place so if the students want to talk about their feelings they can talk to someone who is trained to do so. We make our personnel available as long as needed and as long as any child needs them.”

Howard said the counselors may encourage students to open up and talk about their feelings, help facilitate students sharing their feelings amongst each other and sharing their feelings with the counselor, as well as reassurance in a time of tragedy. Sarah Hodges, BCS public information officer, said the school system is proud of the services provided by Student Services, as well as the leadership from BCS Superintendent Dr. Don Phipps.

“We feel that providing this kind of service to the students or staff is one of the most important things we can do,” Howard said. “We want to be available to them in every possible way. Any time anything occurs in Beaufort County Schools, our Student Services personnel is available regardless of the situation to talk with them and help them with.”

Southside High has responded to Prechtl’s death by offering a prayer vigil for its student body at 8:20 a.m. today. The vigil will be held at the Hawk’s Nest, the SHS football stadium, according to Dale Cole, principal at SHS. Any students who want to attend the morning vigil before school is welcome to do so, Cole said.