In the weeks after the tragic suicide of a Clayton A. Bouton High School student, the Voorheesville community is looking to cope, understand, heal, and move forward.
The family of Jerry Clark will be hosting a memorial service in his memory on Monday, May 10. I would like to hear stories about my son from his friends and, time permitting, will open the floor to them, said Wendy Clark, mother of Jerry Clark.
Clark said that the outpouring for her family has been tremendous. `The day my son passed away, one of his fellow students started a Facebook memorial. Within the first four hours it had 1,000 members.` The group, `April 27th, 2010 R.I.P. Jerry Clark,` currently has over 2,300 members.
She said the online memorial open her eyes to acts of kindness her son bestowed on his peers. `I didn’t even know the little things he did,` said Clark.
Clark specifically mentioned an instance in which Jerry bought flowers for a friend facing hard times, and another in which Jerry went out of his way to help a 6th grade student in his first day on the school bus.
`Jerry went over and sat next to him to make him more comfortable,` said Clark. `He was a caring, loving person; loved by everyone he methe was there for you if you needed him.`
Clark said that memorial will be opened to all from the community. It will begin with a short prayer at 6 p.m., followed by speakers. `We also will have pads of paper and pens so they can write their stories instead if they feel more comfortable that way,` she said.
Clark said the park has asked that people be aware that is no smoking or alcohol permitted in the park and that no flames or candles will be allowed, with the exception of the candle she will be lighting for her son at the beginning of the service.
The Voorheesville Central School District began a series of events geared towards responding to the tragedy, beginning with a meeting of the district’s crisis management team on the night of the student’s death.
The team developed a plan that began with providing counseling services to students affected by the sudden death. Superintendent Teresa Snyder said that the district has partnered with the Albany County Department of Mental Health, and received help from surround school districts to help meet the needs of coping students.
In the next step in formulating the response, the district will be hosting an education and awareness forum, along with the Albany County Suicide Prevention Committee, at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday May 11, at St. Matthew’s Church Social Hall.
`[The forum] is a way to continue to deal with the process of grieving,` said Snyder. She said the committee will help educate parents on ways to help children make healthier decisions.
Snyder has said that responding to the student’s suicide is a community effort. `The forum will provide essential information and resources on a variety of mental health issues for parents, families, children, and the community,` said Snyder, in a letter sent to parents.
Snyder said the effort will continue for the next year. `We have to be mindful and have a sense of vigilance,` she said. According to Snyder, this year the districts health program will put a greater emphasis of adolescent.
She also said that the district will have to find a way to balance this increased education and vigilance while also trying to return to a sense of normalcy.
The district will move forward with its second annual Mr. Voorheesville competition at the high school. The event was originally scheduled for Friday, April 30, however, in light of recent events it was postponed for two weeks, to Friday, May 14.