Four teens died after a one vehicle accident in Jones County on Friday, and the students and faculty of West Jones Middle and High School are mourning the loss of three of their own.
All agreed that it isn't the same without their smiling faces.
“Always smiling, always smiling,” said English Teacher Deann McLaurin about Olivia Wells. “That's what I'm going to take with me for the rest of my life.”
Three West Jones students Olivia Wells, 16, Elizabeth Wells, 13, and Ethan Heinrich, 14 died on the scene. With the mustang flag at half mast, the schools are focused on celebrating their lives.
“We set up a room in the high school and one in the middle school,” said Minister Luke Johnson. “Kids could come in and we have some notebooks, so they can write down their memories to celebrate the lives of these students. Also, we are there if someone needs a prayer or just to talk.”
As students and faculty returned to school Monday morning, crisis counselors were available.
“We called in five or six of our other schools counselors, plus pine belt mental health brought three, and local youth pastors,” said Supervisor Principal Lynn Lyons. “Total I think we have nine.”
Lyons said West Jones will carry on a loving tradition.
“We offer to take up a love offering for students or teachers that have a loss like this,” said Lyon.
The love offering will begin on Tuesday.
“Usually we do it for a couple of days and anyone can give and we apply that money to real needs that they might have,” said Lyons. “ In this case, we will talk to the family and see where the funds might be needed most.”
Many other plans have been made to honor each student in their classrooms and after school activities.