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Halifax private school copes with student tragedies

Posted April 15, 2013

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— Students at Halifax Academy, a private Christian school in Roanoke Rapids, have seen two tragic accidents happen to their classmates – both boys just 7 years old.

On March 10, Will Hawkins, a first-grader, was visiting the cemetery at Tabor United Methodist Church in Littleton, when a falling grave marker crushed him, severely injuring him in the head. He remains hospitalized in serious condition.

On Thursday night, the North Carolina State Highway Patrol said, Thomas Wells, a second-grader, was walking with his parents along N.C. Highway 561 near Justice Branch Road when the young boy darted out into the path of a pickup truck.

Wells died the next day and will be buried Wednesday.

"The tragic accident of Will and the untimely death of Thomas certainly has had a profound impact on our students here as well as our faculty," Halifax Academy Headmaster Glenn Wiggs said Monday.

"My heart is hurting for this whole school," guidance counselor Kristie Harris said. "My heart hurts every day for the families, the parents."

Will Hawkins Roanoke Rapids school helping students cope with tragedies

Grief counselors have been available at the school to help students cope.

Greg Powell, a minister at Enterprise Baptist Church in Littleton, spoke to Wells' second-grade classmates.

"They were asking questions, and sharing favorite memories of Thomas and what he was like," Powell said.

Powell said students also asked questions, such as what heaven is like. School leaders all say faith is what will guide them through this difficult time.

"Tragedy happens, and we don't know why things happen, and we can't explain it," Harris said.

Only adding to the heartache, the school's longtime headmaster, from 1973 to 1999, Billy Mayo, also passed away this weekend following a lengthy illness.

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