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Grief group proposed at city schools

Students dealing with death would get hospice support

January 6, 2009

GLOVERSVILLE - Gloversville Enlarged School District officials are organizing a hospice support group for students in the district who are dealing with the stress and grief of personal tragedies, officials said at a Board of Education meeting Monday.

High School Principal Richard DeMallie and school nurse Susan Sherman approached the board with a plan to bring a hospice support group to the school once a week for about 45 minutes. The group will counsel students who have close family members with terminal illnesses or who have had a close family member or friend die.

"There have been several major tragedies among students recently," DeMallie said.

Article Photos

The Leader-Herald/ Kayleigh Karutis

School nurse Susan Sherman, left, and GHS Principal Richard DeMallie address the Board of Education
on Monday.

The district has at least six children who have had parents or grandparents die recently, Sherman said. Other students have siblings who have died or who are very ill, she said.

Sherman said the service would be free, and students who participate would miss one class once a week. The sessions would be for five or six weeks. They would be geared toward students who need specific help and counseling beyond the standard services offered by the district's three guidance counselors. The facilitators would be guidance counselors and representatives of local hospice organizations.

The sessions would be voluntary, Sherman said. If guidance counselors notice a student who needs the service, they would ask the student if he or she would like to participate. Approval from the student's parent or guardian would be needed, Sherman said.

Board member Stan DeVoe asked what students would be targeted for the service. Sherman said it would focus mostly on middle- and high-school students.

DeVoe said while he thinks the program is a good idea, he would like to see younger students involved as well.

"I'd like to see it extended further," he said. "A [middle school or high school student] knows what death is, but a 7- or 8-year-old might have a different idea of what death is."

Sherman said if students in the elementary schools express an interest in the group, it would be easy to offer it to those students.

Board members said they were supportive of the idea, and Sherman and DeMallie said the group would start as soon as possible.

Kayleigh Karutis covers Gloversville news. She can be reached at



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