By BRIAN BOHNERT
The Elmwood Local Schools family is reeling this week after one of its own suddenly passed away.
Elmwood seventh-grader Mackenzie Shaffer died early this week, succumbing to a sudden illness. In an email sent to the Review Times Wednesday afternoon, Elmwood Superintendent Tony Borton said various resources are being made available for area families mourning the loss to receive the help they need in getting through this difficult time.
A candlelight vigil took place from 8-10 p.m. Wednesday for friends, peer, loved ones and citizens to gather and show their support for Shaffer and her family. Borton said the vigil, hosted by Elmwood community members, took place at the varsity softball field; a place Shaffer was familiar with during her time as a softball player.
“The community is in some shock right now,” Borton said. “She was a great kid, a very great kid.”
Additionally, Borton said grief counselors will be on hand at the school from 2-4 p.m. today and from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Friday for students, staff and community members who need someone to talk to while dealing with the tragic loss.
Borton said several of the school’s guidance counselors have received word from numerous parents interested in bringing their children in to speak to the grief counselors.
“This seventh-grade class is just one of those classes that is a very tight-knit group,” Borton said. “A lot of these girls were all in softball together so I imagine there are going to be a lot of kids that are going to need to work through some issues to understand this. We as adults don’t even understand this right now.”
Borton said he is aware of the possible illness that caused Shaffer’s death, but he said he prefers to have the family speak to that once the cause of death is confirmed.
Initial reports circulating throughout the community indicated Shaffer’s death was caused by a case of bacterial meningitis (see story on page 2). However, Pat Snyder, health education information & communications manager with the Wood County Health Department, said there have been no reported cases of bacterial meningitis in Wood County within the last 30 days and thus no treatment is required for anyone who had contact with her.
Anyone whose child is having difficulty dealing with this and needs immediate support is urged to contact Children’s Resource Center in Bowling Green at 888-466-kids or 888-466-5437. Counselors are available by phone 24/7.
Elmwood Local Schools is located at 7650 Jerry City Road, Bloomdale.
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