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After Boy's Death, Parents Seek Support; Cops Probe Incident

Authorities say Michael Graham, 13, died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

[Update, 2:30 p.m. Jan. 29] Officials at the Southeast Barracks of the New York State Police said Tuesday afternoon they are continuing their investigation into the incident.

[Original story, 4:10 p.m. Jan. 22] The recent death of a 13-year-old Brewster student has left students, and their parents, shaken, according to school district officials.

In response, they have organized a meeting for moms and dads who are seeking advice on addressing the topics of death and tragedy with their children.  

"Since the incident, we have been responding in layers to the levels of need that we see surrounding it," Board of Education President Dr. Stephen Jambor said in an email.

Michael Graham, who was in eighth grade at Henry H. Wells Middle School, passed away at his Southeast home Jan. 14. Police say he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and that his father found him.

When news first broke, administrators' primary concerns focused on those closest to the boy, Jambor said. Crisis teams were available for students and staff.

"Now moving forward and outward we are trying to respond to the other folks, as well," Jambor told Patch. "The parent meetings are a direct response to questions from parents in general asking for support in handling tough questions. For example, a mother came up to me looking for advice concerning how best to answer her 10-year-old daughter's question: 'Mommy why did this happen?'"

The requests for advice have come from parents district-wide, Superintendent Dr. Jane Sandbank said after returning from Michael's funeral Friday.

"We felt it would also be a valuable way for the school community, for the parent community to come together and to help deal with, and heal and recover from this very tragic event," she said, noting that Brewster's sad news comes "on the heels" of Sandy Hook.

Officials at the Southeast Barracks of the New York State Police have not released any information—including details on the gun—since their initial statement. They would not comment Monday, but said the case is still under investigation.

The meeting is scheduled to take place at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Performing Arts Center at the high school. 

"While no one may have 'perfect answers' to these questions, we felt that the opportunity to air them out could itself be beneficial," Jambor said. "We also have a philosophy of trusting in the wisdom of the group as a whole.In this case, that is perhaps the best way for the healing to proceed."

Click here for the teen's obituary, and here for the initial Patch story.

Putnam parents, how have you broached the subjects of death and tragedy with your children? Share your advice in the attached comments section.

Ryan Denmark March 06, 2013 at 09:35 PM
I'm a student there. I'm in 7th grade. Everybody cried and even up to today March 6th, his locker is decorated with messages about life and things from his life like his jersey.

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