Warwick praises first responders, community

By on November 7, 2018

Warwick School District officials held a media-only gathering Friday at the high school to share their gratitude for the outpouring of support after the tragedy on Oct. 26 which claimed the lives of two students.

April Hershey, Warwick superintendent, invited reporters in response for interview requests and “To share our sincere gratitude and appreciation for the unbelievable support we received from our local Warwick community and beyond.”

“This has been an incredibly challenging week for our students, staff, families, and our Warwick community at large,” Hershey said. Out of the respect of the integrity of the ongoing investigation, she did not comment on details of the accident.

“On Friday, October 26, the lives of our Warwick family were changed forever,” she stated. “What was just another day at school turned into a tragic event that has impacted our entire community and will continue to impact us for a long time,” she added. “We lost two amazing, wonderful Warwick students. We loved and Jack and Meghan as if they were our own, just as we love every child that’s a part of Warwick School District, which is why this has been so hard for every single one of us.” While Hershey admitted that she didn’t personally know the students involved in the accident, she said that the three students attended Bonfield Elementary, as well as the Warwick Middle school together.

“The three of them have been friends for a very long time,” she said.

Dr. April Hershey (left), Superintendent of Warwick School District, held a brief press conference on Nov. 5. Also present was Assistant Superintendent Dr. Melanie Calender (center), and Director of Secondary Education, Dr. Ryan Axe.

Due to the location and timing of the incident last Friday, several Warwick administrators and staff members acted as first responders.

“These individuals went above and beyond the scope of their responsibilities to everything humanely possible for our students,” Hershey said. “Alongside our amazing first responders, these Warwick staff members were heroes last Friday. But that is not surprising to me, because they are my heroes everyday.” “Our students are the reason we are here and the focus of everything we do today; and moving forward, our number one priority is the care of those students, their families, our staff, and the greater community. Every single one of us has committed all our time, talents, and our resources to our Warwick students and families.”

The school district opened their doors to provide a place for students to hold a vigil on the evening of the tragedy. An estimated 300 students arrived to pay tribute. Hershey added that “We provided counselors, therapy dogs, access to local ministerium, the local school district staff, and staff from other school districts for students and families. Support remained in place as long as there is a need.”

The school district continues to discuss details specifically on how best to honor Jack and Meghan. Those details will be shared at a later time, Hershey said.

“These students were very well known,” Hershey added. “What’s the worse part of this is that these kids didn’t do anything wrong. We preach and preach and preach to them to make good choices, and they made all the right choices.”

She praised the therapy dogs provided by K-Pets of Lancaster, a completely volunteer organization, made up of many retired teachers.

“It has made such a world of difference,” Hershey said of the dogs. To her knowledge, this was the first time that this form of comfort was used at Warwick.

“There are school districts now who have therapy dogs already on campus,” Hershey said. “We have a lot of connections with other school districts who offered to loan their pets to us.”
Hershey requested that students, staff, and families are allowed the time, space, and privacy they need to process what happened.

“I believe this will take a significant amount of time,” she said. “We are so grateful for the huge outpouring of support from the Warwick community and beyond,” she added. “We ask for your prayers as we continue down a long road of recovery. We are Warwick, and we are Warwick Strong.”

Cory Van Brookhoven is a staff writer for the Lititz Record Express. He welcomes your comments at cvanbrookhoven@lnpnews.com or 717-721-4423. 

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