Although school was over for the summer, Spokane School District 81 opened Ridgeview Elementary to the public and staff Friday morning so counselors could help people deal with their grief.
About 75 parents and children visited the school where Rachel Carver had been a third-grader in Christine Peters’ class.
Adults and children traced their hands with felt markers on butcher paper spread out on cafeteria tables. They wrote messages to Rachel inside the shapes.
Someone decorated one handprint with fingernails, rings and sad faces.
One message read: “I love you. Krystal does too.” Another: “Hi, Rachel. I’m sorry.”
Teachers told children that Rachel’s death was unusual.
“We want to make sure kids have a sense that this is not going to be perpetuated,” said Principal Dana Lyman. “And to let them know we don’t understand either. We’re the adults they normally look to to explain things and we can’t explain this one.”
The staff sent children home with a letter to parents, which will be mailed to every Ridgeview family. The letter advises parents to listen to their children’s questions and fears, encourage them to express themselves in writing and drawing, and suggest concrete ways they can keep themselves safe.
The staff planned the day’s activities at a midnight meeting following the announcement that Rachel’s body had been found.
The school was a command post for police during the search.