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Plant High students work through grief for classmate

TAMPA — Near the center of a giant, yellow banner making the rounds Monday inside Plant High School, someone drew a heart and a halo above it.

"Gone But Never Forgotten," someone else wrote in large letters, a message surrounded by pictures of Allyson Faulk and thoughts about her.

Faulk, a 17-year-old senior, died Friday night when the Ford sport utility vehicle she was driving careened off Interstate 75 near Gainesville and burst into flames.

"It has been a tough day. Our kids are hurting," said Jim Landers, a school psychologist assigned to Plant. "They are coping the best way possible."

By early afternoon, more than 100 students had volunteered to speak with grief counselors, school administrators said.

"Kids don't have the experiences with death that we do as adults," Landers said. "So we're trying to normalize it for them as much as possible."

Students spent the weekend dealing with the tragedy. A memorial Sunday night was attended by three surviving friends — Lizzy Mischo, 18, Karlyn McKell and Kristen Hurst, both 17 — who were riding with Faulk to the Florida State University homecoming game.

Landers said the best way teens deal with death is by talking with one another. That's how most spent the day, he said. He said counselors have offered tips on dealing with grief as well as helping students understand that everyone grieves differently.

He sent this message to parents: "When your kids get home from school today, hug them and tell them you love them."

Plant High students work through grief for classmate 11/17/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 18, 2008 2:09pm]
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