A year after four young children from Oss died in a collision between their Stint and a train, a school board director has described how the community reacted to their loss.
Six-year-old Fleur, four-year-old Kris and two sisters, Dana and Liva (eight and four) never made it to school that day. The driver of the Stint, who worked for a local daycare centre, and an 11-year-old girl were seriously injured.
Sandra Beuving, director of Saam schools, has told the Volkskrant how the educational community dealt with the ‘marathon’ of grief, offers of support and media storm.
Parents were asked to come to the children’s school, De Korenaer, so that they could be told together with their families. Meanwhile, the small community consulted social services and a body that had advised schools who lost children in the MH17 crash, Stichting School en Veiligheid.
Beuving told the Volkskrant that the children’s friends all reacted differently. ‘The mood of toddlers changes from minute to minute,’ she reportedly said. ‘One moment they are incredibly sad and the next they are singing. They don’t understand what it means that someone doesn’t exist any more, either.’
Older children needed to draw or make things for their lost friends, but then wanted to return to structure and the normal maths and language lessons, she said. The oldest children, whose friend survived, had more questions. ‘They asked how something so stupid could have happened…Family advisors came to answer their questions as well as possible,’ she said.
Another question was what to do with the empty desks: at first, they were left in place and then the furniture was quietly rearranged during holidays.
Meanwhile, some of the bereaved families wanted to stay in contact with their old classes – with the parents of one coming to school on their child’s birthday to offer fruit treats and ask the classmates to blow out his candles.
Now, a year after the tragedy, said Beuving, ‘the school is a school again’. But on the playground four butterfly-bushes have been planted in memory of Fleur, Kris, Dana and Liva.
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