Supports offered for students following shootings

Community responds to two LHS students injured during shootings on Friday at Holcom Park

By William Yanek, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Following shootings at Holcom Park, district crisis support team members were available for Lawrence High students on Monday.

Two LHS students — 18-year-old and 16-year-old brothers — were injured just before 4 p.m. Friday in a parking lot at Holcom Park. To help students cope with this and other recent gun-related incidents, the district sent in the crisis support team in addition to the mental health team already present at Lawrence High.

“Lawrence High’s mental health team, and district crisis support team members as needed, will be available tomorrow at LHS should any student need support,” said USD 497 communications director Julie Boyle in an email to staff and school families Sunday evening. “We wanted to give all families the opportunity tonight to discuss this with your students. Please let your school know if you think your student would benefit from additional support.”

This is the second time the district crisis support team has been called upon in the past two months. However, for district mental health facilitator Jose Cornejo, the goals of the crisis support team remain the same.

“The goal is to help: how do we support students and staff?” Cornejo said. “How do we provide an environment where they feel safe and have an environment where they have permission to go visit with somebody if they’re feeling unsafe or if it triggered other emotions that they might be navigating at the time?”

The crisis support team left by mid-morning, as the school’s mental health team felt like it had a good grip on the situation, said school psychologist and mental health team member Dr. Sylvia Trevino-Maack. While the district’s presence is gone, the LHS mental health team is still committed to making students feel at ease in light of these troubling circumstances.

“That [shooting] just gives me a sense of more urgency,” Trevino-Maack said. “It’s just more urgent because we don’t have time to ponder.”

Many of these issues, assistant principal Mark Preut believes, stem from a lack of student-adult connection, which the district recently tried to address.

“It’s about a community and not just teachers need to, administrators need to, we all, as a part of a community need to be open to reaching out,” Preut said. “We have students who’ve been through incredible trauma and so sometimes it’s really difficult for people to open up and trust other people whether it’s fellow students or adults, and so it’s trying to put some supports in place in building those relationships.”

Two arrests have been made in connection with Friday’s shooting. Police said 17-year-olds Benson J. Edwards and Sahavione K. Caraway were booked into the Juvenile Detention Center over the weekend. Lawrence Police indicated both were from Topeka although Edwards was a student at Lawrence High last year, according to his yearbook photo.

Police said the older victim sustained life-threatening injuries and was in critical but stable condition on Sunday. The 16-year-old was in stable condition that day with injuries not believed to be life threatening, according to police.