Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

September 17, 2013

Schools utilize grief counselors

By Heather Mullinix
Assistant editor

CROSSVILLE — Friday morning, word of the deaths of four people, including three teens, spread among students in Cumberland County schools. School officials worked to offer resources for students and staff to share their grief and handle the difficult emotions they were feeling.

"Anytime we have homicides, and the loss of life is certainly tragic, but when we have the loss of lives of young people, it's much more so," said Director of Schools Donald Andrews in a press conference Friday afternoon. "It is with great sadness that we announce the deaths of those four individuals and the ties they had to Cumberland County Schools. We offer our sincere condolences to the families on their loss."

Andrews said grief counselors were on hand in each of the county's three high schools. He thanked school administrators and guidance counselors for their efforts to support the students, teachers, and school staffs.

Victims of Thursday's quadruple homicide were:

•Dominic Davis, 17, a sophomore at Cumberland County High School who recently moved to Cumberland County from Colorado. He loved art, music and sports, especially basketball. On a recent class assignment, when asked how he wanted to be remembered, he wrote, "I want to be remembered not as the best man alive, but the most respected."

CCHS staff said Davis was well liked and respected at the school.

•Steven Presley, 17, graduated from the Phoenix School in May 2013. School staff described the teen as "always happy, smiling, funny, kind-hearted, sweet and polite...The type of young many who would do anything for anyone. He was loved by all who knew him and a pleasure to have around. He reached out to those that no one else would and treated everyone as a friend."

Before attending the Phoenix School, which offers credit recovery and opportunities for students to complete requirements for high school graduation, Presley had missed school often. He achieved perfect attendance at Phoenix School and was cited as an example of students changing and improving their lives by General Sessions Judge Larry Warner.

No information regarding services have been received for Presley.

•Jon Lajeunese, 16, had previously attended both CCHS and Stone Memorial High School. He was most currently being home schooled. He enjoyed skateboarding, fishing and hunting and playing video and computer games. According to an obituary, the family will receive friends Wednesday, Sept. 18, at Crossville Memorial Funeral Home from 3 to 5 p.m., with funeral service to follow at 5 p.m.

Danielle Rikki Jacobsen, 22, also had ties to the school system, with a child attending pre-kindergarten in the school system.

A memorial service for Jacobsen and Davis, her nephew, has been scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 21, at 1 p.m. at First Baptist Church in Crossville. A fellowship gathering will be held following the service.

The deaths of the students were announced in all classrooms Friday morning.

"The students were all given the opportunity to share any thoughts they had in reference to their classmates or former classmates," Andrews said. "From there, we wanted to return to as much normalcy as we could during this difficult time, but with the understanding that any student or staff member, or anyone, who felt the need to share or talk with any of the grief counselors, they could do so."

Andrews noted that the weekend offered an opportunity for students and school officials to take time away from the day-to-day activities.

In July, Andrews, at the request of guidance counselors Bridgett Smith and Laura Kidwell, approved administrative procedures for dealing with grief within the school system, providing a general guide for schools to address tragedies.

Andrews thanked the Cumberland County Sheriff's Department, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and cooperating law enforcement agencies in surrounding counties for working together to quickly bring a suspect into custody.