News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Schools form partnership for grief, loss, trauma help

Counselors for the Sisters School District have been collaborating with other agencies to better respond to grief and loss, in part following the deaths of two high school seniors and a recent graduate.

The community was rocked by the tragic loss of young lives earlier this fall, which underscored the ongoing need for resources to help both students and adults be aware of information, resources and other forms of support in our area.

In addition to the recent vehicle accidents, Sisters has experienced a number of other losses of young adults in recent years due to suicide.

Jessica Jacks, the prevention programs supervisor for Deschutes County mental health, and Joel Stutzman of Central Oregon Chaplaincy have been collaborating over the past few weeks with Sisters Middle School counselor Brook Jackson, high school counselor Lindy Weddel and school nurse Trish Roy, among others, to provide in-school and community support associated with grief, loss, and trauma.

In addition, the “Culture of Care” team from the High Desert Education Service District, has been involved in the work being done in this area.

The first community-centered action will take place on Thursday, November 12 at 6 p.m. via a Zoom webinar sponsored by Sisters School District that will include a presentation by Donna Schuurman of the Dougy Center along with guests from other agencies and organizations. (See sidebar.)

Jacks said, “The webinar is designed to learn information and skills to help ourselves and our loved ones in our community to better cope with grief and loss.”

The Dougy Center, located in Portland, but serving all of Oregon, specializes in providing support and training to help children, teens, young adults, and their families, navigate grieving.

According to Jacks, people of all ages are welcome to join the webinar. The event is scheduled to include a 60-minute presentation followed by 30 minutes of question and answer.

Jacks sees the outreach to the community as an important step, especially while many students are not in school in person, making communication with kids and families more of a challenge.

“We want everyone to know the resources available to them and to understand how much the school cares about the well-being of our young people,” he said.

The Zoom link for the webinar is

Meeting ID is 937 8697 0017 and phone is 1-253-215-8782.


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