Monday, September 26, 2005
As soon as Steamboat Springs School District officials learned that a 17-year-old senior had died at her home, they began preparing ways to provide support for students, parents and staff.
Senior Adele Dombrowski died in her bed Friday night or Saturday morning. Her cause of death is unknown. Autopsy results are expected later this week, Routt County Coroner Rob Ryg said.
Dombrowski was a popular student, school officials said. She was an athlete who played tennis, hockey and volleyball. She also was an artist who sang, played the flute and danced.
District officials met Saturday, and the Crisis Management Team, which includes administrators, representatives from Steamboat Mental Health and counselors, met Sunday afternoon.
On Monday morning, as soon as staff began to come to work, the support plan was put into action. Counselors and Steamboat Mental Health workers gave teachers and staff ideas about how to talk with their classes about grief and death, and how to answer some questions that might surface during those discussions. Counselors and mental health workers were paired with teachers who needed support in the classroom.
"The biggest thing is to try to identify kids that were very close, and make sure they're supported," Knezevich said.
Students were read a statement about Dombrowski's death and were told that counselors were available now and would be available in the future to provide support. A meeting also was held Monday night for parents.
This incident marks the third Steamboat student to die in less than a year. Last year, two Steamboat Springs seventh-graders died in separate accidents.
At Steamboat Springs Middle School, staff, but not students, were read the statement about Dombrowski's death so that they would know how to answer questions students might have, Assistant Principal Jerry Buelter said.
Buelter and Principal Tim Bishop watched for students who were close to either of the seventh-graders who passed away last school year and might be affected by this recent death.
Such tragedies are especially felt in small schools such as Steamboat Springs High School.
"It hits us all a lot harder, because everybody knows everybody," Principal Mike Knezevich said.
But at the same time, small schools can pull together and support each other, he said, "because we're all family."
-- To reach Susan Cunningham, call 871-4203 or e-mail email@example.com