School copes with pain of losing student in deadly shooting

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wwltv.com

Posted on September 3, 2013 at 12:50 PM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 3 at 8:34 PM

Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
Email: mfarris@wwltv.com | Twitter: @megfarriswwl

NEW ORLEANS -- It was the first day back to class for students at Lafayette Academy Charter School.

Absent was 11-year-old Arabian Gayles, after a bullet killed her in her sleep.

Dozens of adults were on hand to help get the children through the emotional pain.

"A lot of them are shocked. A lot of them are angry. A lot of them are confused. So we're helping them get through that," said Mickey Landry, the executive director of Choice Foundation, which runs this and two other charter schools.

Instead of asking questions to teachers, 30 social workers were on hand trying to answer questions.

"The younger ones really are kind of more confused than anything else. The older ones, particularly the ones that were in the home room with Arabian, are asking, 'Why, how could this happen?' She was such a sweet child. She was such a lovable child," remembered Landry.

In January 2010, we brought our camera into Lafayette and sat with students as they heard straight talk from a young man in a wheelchair, his legs stolen at their same age by a bullet.

"If I can save one person from not suffering, like I've had to over the past years, then that's a big contribution," said DJ Dietze in 2010. Back then he was a Tulane University student giving speeches in schools through the Liberation Through Education program.

The students who heard his talk in 2010 were the same age as Arabian Gayles when she lost her life Monday. When Dietze asked them how many had personal experience with a gun, nearly all raised their hands.

That's what they still live with today.

"We've had a number of parents and brothers and relatives who were killed in street violence, and that unfortunately is what our children live with," said Landry, who says the students live with the fear that they could be killed by a gun one day. "The truth is, all of the schools need more resources to deal with the mental health issues of our students. I marvel at the way they come to school everyday standing on two feet and are happy and focused on what their jobs are now and we love them for that."

Mayor Landrieu's NOLA for life program, as well as CeaseFire and the city's health department through Dr. Karen DeSalvo, all offered help to the school Tuesday.

 

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