Mt. Enterprise Schools Deal With Tragedy - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

4/14/03 - Mt. Enterprise

Mt. Enterprise Schools Deal With Tragedy

In Mt. Enterprise, teachers and counselors tried to help their students deal with the deaths of four of their classmates over the weekend. In a tiny school with 400 students from pre-kindergarten through high school, the deaths seemed to touch everyone.

The school day started with a special assembly this morning. Superintendent Paul Moore had his staff ready to help, and do whatever they could.

"You never really know how kids are going to react," said Moore. "I think what we did gave kids the opportunity to meet, talk, and hug each other, comfort each other. You really can't have a plan for this."

They mourned the four students, their friends, today. Sophomore Justin Roeber, his brother Ples "Junior" Kropp, Justin's longtime girlfriend Jessica Ross and her cousin Mandy are gone, but not forgotten.

"We're all so close," Moore says, "And everybody knew these students. It's hard to deal with today, and it'll be hard again Wednesday when the services are going to be held."

This morning, the flags were at half staff. Counselors and clergy were on hand from not just Mt. Enterprise, but volunteers from other local schools as well.

"They called us," Moore explains. "Some called last night, early this morning asking do we need them, and we said 'sure.' And they were here by eight o'clock."

On Monday, stunned students left notes in the lockers of their friends, and looked for some way, any way to help they could.

"Some boys wanted to go out," Moore says, "And mow the yards and rake leaves and clean up outside of the house, and some wanted to vacuum and sweep."

"We said sure, just bring a note tomorrow from your parents."

So this community draws together to mourn their friends and support their families.

"We're trying to get things back as normal as we can," Moore says, "But it's hard."

The funeral for the four students will be Wednesday at eleven o'clock at Mt. Enterprise's Landmark Baptist Church. The school will be dismissing class at ten so students can pay their last respects.

Reid Kerr ( reporting.

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