Over Jennings County High School’s spring break, the school lost two students. Morgan Gibson, a junior, died March 24 and Tony Merry III, a senior, died March 29.
The two were well loved by their fellow students and the atmosphere of the school upon returning April 2 was one of loss and sadness. For this reason, the school and its counselors took action.
When the students returned from spring break, everyone was given the option to speak to a counselor, speak to a pastor, have alone time in the library or see a therapy dog if they felt that they needed one of these services to help them deal with their grief. Administrators were present in each of the classes that either Gibson or Merry had been in, and all four of the high school counselors were present at both of the students’ funerals.
Before this tragedy, no actions as involved as these have been taken by the school following a student death. Many students see the actions taken during this week as being admirable of their school and a wonderful step toward schools increasing their involvement in students’ mental health.
While the presence of the therapy dogs was a shock to many students, many students found them to be the most helpful resource that was offered to them, especially students that were not ready to discuss their feelings and just needed a silent friend.
There were four dogs present: Julia, Naomi, Barnabas, and Mercy. The first three of these dogs are the same dogs used to comfort those affected by the Sandy Hook shooting, the Pulse nightclub shooting, the Parkland shooting and the major floods in Louisiana and Oklahoma.
“I think it was a wonderful idea for the school to bring in the dogs. It was really smart of them (the school) and I know many people found it very helpful,” Emily Guffey, a senior, said.