2nd WCHS senior dies within 15 days
When Woodford County High School student Jackson Neal Paris was killed in an auto accident in Scott County early Saturday morning, he became the second WCHS senior to die within a month of graduation. Classmate Ethan James Gilbert passed away April 28. The two deaths within such a short time made for a busy Monday for the school's guidance counselors and social workers. Scott County Coroner John Goble said Paris died when his car failed to negotiate a curve on Stone Road, east of Georgetown, about 12:20 a.m. Saturday. Goble told The Sun he believed Paris fell asleep at the wheel, and that neither excessive speed nor intoxication were factors in the crash. Asked to talk about her conversations with grieving, unnamed students, WCHS social worker Sara Swinford instead read a statement. "Our guidance staff is providing supportive counseling to our students and staff. The students are grieving and holding each other up during this very difficult time. Students are sharing the positive impact that Ethan and Jack have had on our lives. Our school and our community will forever be impacted by the loss of these two young men, taken too soon. We will provide the necessary support to our students and staff as long as it may be needed," Swinford said. A moment of silence Before school board members had a moment of silence for Woodford County High School seniors Jackson Paris and Ethan Gilbert and their families on Monday night, schools Superintendent Scott Hawkins expressed his thoughts on the tragic events of recent weeks. "Probably some of the worst phone calls you ever get as a superintendent is when you're notified that you've lost a student," said Hawkins. "And unfortunately, I've gotten two of those calls over the last few weeks. "I do want to extend our condolences to Ethan's family and Jack's family. I can't imagine the pain that they must be experiencing at this time. But one thing that we have tried very hard to do as a school district is to be there to support them, to support our students, and to support our staff." He commended Garet Wells, director of staff/student services, for his coordination of the district's crisis team. Following the deaths of the Woodford County High School seniors, who both lost their lives after classes on a Friday, the crisis team worked through the weekend so they were ready to help students and staffers when classes resumed Monday morning, Hawkins said. "Our community has been very supportive," he continued. "We've had counselors from out in the community, we've had ministers from our local churches who have been in (the high school) to talk with kids." "...We will continue to have people available to try to meet the needs of those who are struggling." Emotions are probably more intensified because both Jack and Ethan were seniors set to graduate with their peers on Saturday, May 27, Hawkins said. "So we've had people there (at the high school), and we'll continue to have people there." "It's a sad time in what is normally a very joyous time of the school year," he added.