RESPECT: Drama teacher at Mullumbimby High Marisa McEwan in her office
RESPECT: Drama teacher at Mullumbimby High Marisa McEwan in her office

Healing after Jai Morcom tragedy

THE GRIEF is still heavy in the air at Mullumbimby High School nearly two weeks after the tragic events that led to the death of Jai Morcom, the day after a violent incident at the school on August 28.

Eyes are downcast and tears don't seem to be far away, from students to teachers and even the principal, Ian Graham.

Nerves are still raw as the school community struggles to come to terms with the loss of one of its own.

But the Education Department and the school community have not been idle and slowly a feeling of hope is creeping back into the classrooms and corridors of Mullumbimby High.

Every assistance has been placed at the school's disposal to help students, teachers and parents move through their grief.

A memorial is being planned for Jai in the school grounds with students driving the project.

Up to 10 school counsellors have worked around the clock every day to talk to students in the library and Community Health has also worked with the Department of Education to assist parents and families in the community.

Drama teacher Marisa McEwan, who has been with the school on and off for 20 years, said there were no problems of respect with the kids, as claimed by Jai Morcom's father Steve Drummond on ABC Radio on Thursday.

“I feel respected and loved by the kids,” she said.

Mr Drummond told ABC Radio he wanted to make sure his son's death was not swept aside.

“How could we possibly forget it? We are all aching because he (Jai) is not here,” Ms McEwan said.

Ms McEwan said the gentleness of the children is what keeps her at Mullumbimby High School.

“The kids all hug each other,” she said.

Principal of Wollumbin High School Karen Connell spent a week at the school listening to complaints and submissions, while Department of Education North Coast Region School Education Director Greg Cloak and student support consultant Karen McKenzie met with people from the community off site.

“Karen Connell attended immediately after the incident and spent her time listening to the children, parents and teachers giving their suggestions for the school and how it could be improved,” Mr Cloak said.

“It was an opportunity for people in an emotional state to get things off their chest. No one was not heard.”

Last Thursday retired School Education director and superintendent Adrian Parker arrived at the school to sit down with Ms McKenzie, who is a specialist in student welfare and wellbeing, to sift through all the submissions.

Asked how long he would be at Mullum High, Mr Parker, once a student of the school for a short period, said he would stay as long as it took to get the job done. The staff room at the school has been filled with flowers every day and wishes of support from schools from all over the country and even overseas.

Every day in the past two weeks volunteers have been bringing food in for the teachers. When The Northern Star visited on Thursday the Uniting Church had brought in cakes and sandwiches.

Principal Ian Graham has spent hours writing thank you letters.

“We have received hundreds of tributes and letters of support from high schools all over the country and overseas,” he said. “Such support keeps us strong.”

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