Schools help fire victims' classmates cope - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Schools help fire victims' classmates cope

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Manchester (KWWL) -- Authorities have identified the victims in a Wednesday morning house fire in Greeley. They were 14-year-old Abigail Zeil, 8-year-old Tyler Hansen, 7-year-old Megan Hansen, and 3-year-old Haylee Hansen.

The three older children attended school in the West Delaware District, which hasn't held classes since the fire because of weather. The school will be helping students cope with the loss of classmates.

A fire that left four children dead will leave a lifelong imprint on the community -- one that school counselors hope to help classmates cope with. As soon as school district officials learned of the fire, they started putting plans into place to provide grief counseling for students and staff.

"Right within our counseling department, we have a program we utilize, we also have coordinated with our Area Education Agency, and they have a program," Elementary Principal Carol Tjaden said.

West Delaware will not have school Friday because of weather, but families are encouraged to call the school if they would like to see a grief counselor. Kids go back to school Monday, a day originally scheduled as a day off.

"Monday, we'll have counselors go into classrooms of affected students and visit with them. There will also be counselors available in the resource room if students need it," Superintendent Bob Cue said.

In the time after Wednesday's fire, administrators say everyone will cope and heal differently.

"The younger the child, the easier it is for them to go on. They'll notice the empty desk, they'll notice the empty locker, those types of things, but staff will remember all the relationships, the things that happened; the good mornings, the good nights, the good works," Cue said.

"In many ways they will be very much missed. What they have reminded us is that each child is very important, and tells us to prioritize in our lives, and that as teachers and part of the educational community, our impact on children is very important," Tjaden said.

Family friends say a fifth child, an older brother, attends a different school.

The Greeley United Methodist Church is collecting donations for the families involved.  Send donations to the Hanson or Long family c/o Greeley United Methodist Church; P.O. Box 48; Greeley, IA 52050.

Online Reporter:  Jamie Grey

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