A-P School District reacts to Becker verdict - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

A-P School District reacts to Becker verdict

PARKERSBURG (KWWL) -- Tuesday was an emotionally charged day at Aplington-Parkersburg High School.  As students and faculty waited for a decision on Mark Becker's fate, school leaders worked to prevent it from disrupting regular class as much as possible.  That's been their goal throughout the trial.  But looking forward does not mean they forget to look back every once in awhile.

"It was my pleasure to know Coach Thomas. And I miss him every day," High School Principal Dave Meyer reflected.

"It's the time I spent with him alone that I'll remember the most. The times when we could talk about my own sons playing sports with him... dad-to-dad type time," said Superintendent Jon Thompson.

Tuesday morning, most of the students at Aplington-Parkersburg High School heard the verdict of Mark Becker's trial from Meyer. He asked teachers not to play it on television. But they did allow time for classes to discuss, and reflect on what has happened, and what the future holds.

Twenty-two students did get the opportunity to watch the jury's decision as Judge Stephen Carroll read it to the court. Those are the teens who witnessed Thomas' shooting, and had to testify during the trial. Meyer allowed them to watch together in a classroom.

"There's somewhat of a cloud over us the last couple of weeks with the trial going on. Good friends that had to testify, and just feeling horribly for the kids who had to go through that and experience testifying in the trial," noted Meyer.

The school had extensive training with grief counseling following the 2008 tornado, and they used that knowledge to prepare for the verdict.

"It was just as emotional for our staff as it was for our students. And I think the students have responded.. probably better than I thought they would. I'm very proud of them," said Thompson.

Thompson is hoping this verdict will serve as the end of a very difficult chapter in Parkersburg history. But he and Meyer are also vowing to remember -- and promise future Falcons who did not have the privilege of knowing Coach Thomas will continue to learn his lessons.

"That's the number one way that we can honor Ed Thomas, and his memory, is to take that message about looking to each other for support, cleaning ourselves up when we fall down, and moving forward," added Thompson.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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