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Community grieves loss of student

by Judy Reed

Students, family and community members are grieving the loss of a former Cedar Springs Middle School student who died early Wednesday morning.

Cedar Springs Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn shared the news with staff and parents in emails Wednesday morning. “It is with a broken heart that I share with you sad news in our Cedar Springs community. This morning a student who attended 8th grade at our middle school previously this year has passed away,” she wrote.

Van Duyn told the Post that she was notified early Wednesday, May 4, around 7:30 a.m. not to send any transportation to students in the area of 17 Mile and Shaner, but was not told why. She later learned that the teen had passed away outside in that area, and that police and fire had the area blocked off. “I am heartbroken for his family, and his mother,” said Van Duyn, as she choked back tears.

A team of social workers and counselors were quickly put in place to support students and staff. They were available at both the high school and middle school for anyone who wanted to see them—students, staff, or parents. She said they would remain available.

VanDuyn commended the principals, teachers and counselors for the warm and compassionate way they handled breaking the news to students. “When you work with thousands of students, you just can never predict these things. Counselors assembled quickly, and teachers shared with their heart and soul,” she explained.

Van Duyn said she could not say why the teen was not currently attending school. She did say that the family was new to the district this year, and that the teen has two siblings still attending in the district. She said they would assemble a team to give them the support they need.

Mlive.com reported that a student told them that their bus came upon the scene of the mother outside in a ditch cradling the boy in her arms. Supt. VanDuyn said she could not confirm what students on the bus may have seen. She said that counseling was also offered to the bus driver, whom she called a warm and caring person.

Van Duyn was encouraged by the outpouring of concerned phone calls she received from parents in our community, the Kent Intermediate School District, other Superintendents, and counselors. She also had high praise for the Kent County Sheriff Department and Cedar Springs Fire Department. “It gives us confidence that we live in a community that takes care of us,” she said.

The Kent County Sheriff Department had not released any official info on the death to the Post as of press time Wednesday evening. However, MLive was reporting that the Sheriff Department had confirmed to them that they were investigating the death as a suicide.

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3 Responses to “Community grieves loss of student”

  1. shyhippy says:

    There is a lot more to this story then Cedar Springs schools or the media are telling us. Parents ask your self a question about why there are so many suicide attempts from Cedar Springs kids and why do they keep happening. We all need to start opening our eyes and asking questions. Two kids from Cedar Springs have died within a year, why? As a parent I would like some answers. Cedar Springs says they have a no bullying policy but yet superiors at the school bully them? If this is in fact true we need answers!

  2. DiEn says:

    The school district is not being open about the situation. This is happening too much and for too long in this district.

  3. Disgusted says:

    The answers are simple. The teachers and the administration are not paying attention to what is going on with the students, nor do they care. What adult in their right mind thinks it is ok to ban a child from school for actions that clearly show they are asking for help. Why wasn’t CPS called in to investigate his home life to see if something else was going on in this child’s life? Why wasn’t a counselor called in to talk to him? Why is there not such a thing as “in house” suspension? Instead of communicating with the child, we remove him from all social inter action and leave him to deal with the demons in his head. Shame on the teachers and the administration for having such a poor way to deal with the emotional needs of our children. I am truly disgusted with the ineptness I see in our schools.

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