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Classmates, Staff Mourn Two Deaths

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DRAIN, Ore. — The first day of school was cancelled in the town of Drain Tuesday after two deaths–one a staff member and the other a high school student.

The North Douglas School District says losing two people just days apart has affected both students and staff. Instead of having school, they held an all-staff meeting to reorganize and help everyone get back on their feet.

Myndee Heuer describes Drain as more than just a community of neighbors.

“We do everything like a family in the sense that we love really hard, fight really well, and we love each other afterwards,” Heuer said.

She says with the tragic loss of a high school student and a faculty member, she agrees with cancelling school Tuesday.

“I think it was a great idea. It gives everybody a little more time to absorb what happened and mourn a little bit longer,” Heuer said.

Austin Lundeen died last Thursday when a hunting rifle he and his friend were handling accidentally went off, killing the 16-year-old. Then on Friday, elementary school office manager Debby Huckins died.

Superintendent John Lahley says the deaths have caused not just students to mourn but also school staff.

“If you don’t have staff who can effectively work with kids on this very first day back to school, the board and I felt it was probably the best decision to go ahead and cancel for today,” Lahley said.

During the all-staff meeting Tuesday morning, Lahley says they discussed how everyone was going to move forward from this once school starts Wednesday.

“We have a crisis team as well and those are some counselors coming in from other schools who have come in, and they will be available and making provisions for students and for staff,” Lahley said.

Heuer, who has a child at North Douglas High School, thinks this will be beneficial for all the kids, including her daughter, and she’s thankful for the school’s help.

“I think it’ll be good for her to talk to a professional in order to get to the root of some stuff and help her heal,” Heuer said.

The funeral for Huckins is planned for Friday, and Lundeen for Saturday. Both will be at North Douglas High School and classes will be cancelled on Friday.

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