WHS offering grief counseling support following students deaths, candlelight vigil Friday evening

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Winters High School (Express file photo)

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Winters Joint Unified School District is providing counseling support for the school community following the death of two Winters High School students on Thursday. A community organizer has also planned a candlelight vigil Friday evening for the community to gather at.

WHS Principal John Barsotti reached out to families in a community message Friday morning confirming the devastating news that the two teens who died in an ATV accident Thursday afternoon were WHS students.

“Our students, our families, and our staff will hear of this news and meet it with disbelief and anguish. I wish there was something that I or we could say or do so that wasn’t the case,” Barsotti said. “What we can do is to be there and to listen to anyone in pain, if we are able, and to reach out to someone ourselves if that’s what we need.”

Winters JUSD has created a Crisis Intervention Team by teaming up school counselors with professionals from CommuniCare and clinicians from RISE, Inc.

Jenny Pinedo, Director of Special Education & Student Services, posted the following schedule for next week’s grief counseling and support services which are available to any member of the the Winters JUSD school community:

  • Monday, June 13: 12 to 5 p.m.
  • Tuesday, June 14: 12 to 5 p.m.
  • Wednesday, June 15: 1 to 5 p.m.
  • Thursday, June 16: 1 to 5 p.m.
  • Friday, June 17: 1 to 5 p.m.

Winters JUSD provides mental health resources through Care Solace to students and their families. Information is available at www.wintersjusd.org.

“Please know that Winters JUSD will make every effort to offer safe spaces to connect, comfort, and compassion as we grieve this loss together,” Pinedo said.

Mental health emergency resources are available at:

  • Text “Hello” or “Home” to 741741 to connect with support.
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255
    • English: 800-273-TALK
    • Espanol: 888-628-9454
    • TTYY: 800-799-4998
  • Online chat: suicidepreventionlifeline.org
  • Trevor Lifeline LGBTQIA+ Crisis Support: 1-866-488-7386
  • Call 911 or request a Crisis Intervention Trained (CIT) response
  • Go to the closest emergency room for support

Candlelight vigil
At 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Winters JUSD and WHS sent a community message announcing that a community-coordinated candlelight vigil in honor of the two teens was being hosted on Friday, June 10 at Dr. Sellers Football Field between beginning at 8 p.m., and lighting candles beginning at 9 p.m.

Community members who plan to attend are requested to bring their own candles, and extra candles to share with others at the event.

The message said, “All members of the community are invited to participate and support one another in mourning our loss.”

Update: Added candlelight vigil, mental health resource information

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