Westwood shows outpouring of support for those grieving the loss of Ross Cowen
“The response from support services has been very good. We had about 20 counselors as well as members of the clergy show up at the school,” said Lou Istrice, principal at Fletcher Walker.
Counselors from the Lassen County Department of Education, Lassen County Mental Health Services and Sierra Hospice were also available Wednesday, Jan. 24 throughout the day.
Support for the family members was also strong from both community members and local pastors. At the suggestion of grief counselors, children at Fletcher Walker wrote letters to the family expressing their feelings about Ross.
Istrice read one letter the afternoon of Jan. 23 at a meeting of counselors, teachers and school staff and the message brought many of those present to tears. The group met after school to determine what was needed to continue the grieving process.
Cowen, born Jan. 30, 1997, died Monday afternoon at Westwood Park. According to a report from the Lassen County Sheriffs Department, it received a call at 4:18 p.m. Monday, Jan. 22 about a possible deceased child in Westwood Park. Emergency medical technicians from SEMSA ambulance services responded and tried to revive the child with advanced life support to with no avail. It appeared at the scene the child died as a result of hanging.
Thursday, Jan. 25, the Lassen County Sheriff’s Department reported the cause of death was affixation and the evidence is consistent with the findings.
Undersheriff Si Bolinger said an extensive investigation was conducted and there were no indications of foul play.
Services for Cowen were scheduled for 1 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 26 at the Lake Almanor Community Church on the Peninsula. Istrice said he had agreed to adjourn school at 12:15 p.m. so teachers and staff at Fletcher Walker Elementary could attend.
Members of the Westwood/Lake Almanor Rotary planned to cook a special breakfast at Fletcher Walker Friday morning as part of ongoing support for the children and staff. Charlene Brown, a representative from the Teachers Professional Association, and other members of the organization, arranged a special support meeting for the teaching staff after school on Thursday, Jan. 25.
Istrice said support would be ongoing. The Lassen County Department of Mental Health provided free counseling to any family member or student who needed support services and was not covered by insurance. He said Debbie Hill, the counselor for the Westwood School District, was compiling a list of people who would need follow-up counseling.
Many parents have requested a town meeting and Istrice said one would be scheduled in the near future at the Westwood Community Center to discuss child safety issues.
The Fletcher Walker Student Council has taken the lead on a special memorial for Cowen. They will plant a tree, which is a symbol of life, at Westwood Park in memory of their classmate this fall. Istrice said the ceremony would take place in the fall because that was the proper time to plant a tree in Westwood. A plaque will be placed by the tree with the family’s permission.
In the meantime all students who wished to participate were invited to write a private message expressing their feelings concerning recent events and place it in a blue box. This idea came from Karron White, director of Sierra Hospice, who said it helped children get feelings out they may not verbally be able to express. The box will be burned and the council will save the ashes to mix with the soil when the tree is planted.
Istrice said, “We were able to meet the needs of a lot of students because of the wonderful help we got from a lot of groups.”
Grizzlies look back on football season
Cole McCown, back left, Sam Joseph, Franky Shepherd, Quinn Thompson, Case Bennett, Jace Woginrich, front left, Tyler Clark, Colton Faure, Jake Thomas and Kyle Barnetche were all presented with awards during the Lassen High School varsity football awards ceremony Wednesday, Dec. 4. Photo by Maddie...Read More...
Lassen High wrestling hosts Purple and Gold Scrimmage
The Lassen High School wrestling team held its annual Purple and Gold Scrimmage on Wednesday, Dec. 4 in the Lassen High gym. The wrestling team broke up into two teams, purple and gold, and faced off in a night of wrestling that gave fans a taste of what they can expect in the coming season. Lassen...Read More...
Cougars face tough teams to prepare for a victorious season
TJ McCauley attempts to keep the ball away from a Fresno City College player during the championship basketball game of the El Camino Tournament on Sunday, Nov. 24. The Lassen Community College Cougars have been competing in pre-season tournaments and have earned several wins. Photo by Scott Nordstrom Dec....Read More...