HOLDEN, Maine — Mental health counselors were at the local elementary school Friday afternoon to help students, parents and staff deal with the death of a third-grader, according to Superintendent Susan Smith.
The 8-year-old boy who died Wednesday attended Holden Elementary School, which is part of Regional School Unit 63 serving the communities of Eddington, Clifton and Holden. Grades two through four are taught at the Holden school.
Smith announced the boy’s death on the RSU 63 website, describing the boy as “a wonderful, friendly child.” The BDN is not naming the youngster because of his age.
A Bangor television station late Thursday reported the boy’s death as a suicide, but Penobscot County Sheriff Troy Morton said Friday that the cause of the boy’s death has not been determined.
The investigation into the death is continuing, he said.
Information about when and where the boy died also was not released. Morton did not say the death was considered suspicious.
“The death of a student, a child, is just a very, very, very untimely, unexpected event,” Smith said Friday afternoon in the school library. “We have not been in school with the children since last week. We had teacher workshops Monday and Tuesday.”
Counselors from Community Health and Counseling were in the school gym to meet with teachers, staff, students, parents and other community members. Adults and children came into the silent school building on Route 1A and were met at the door by staff.
One of the goals of Friday’s session was “to give parents and teachers some words they use when they are talking with their children so they are able to let them know that their friend … has died and that it’s a sad thing and to really be there to listen to the kids,” the superintendent said.
Smith said school day activities would be routine Monday but staff would be flexible to meet students’ needs, she said. Mental health professionals also will be at the school.
An evening session will be scheduled next week for the community to come together for support in the wake of the boy’s death, Smith said.