Counsellors were on hand Monday at an Edmonton junior high school to help students deal with the death of Sgt. George Miok, a teacher and Canadian reservist killed in a bombing in Afghanistan last week.
Miok was killed along with three other soldiers and a journalist in the Dec. 30 attack.
Students at St. Cecilia School wrote notes to the man they knew as Mr. Miok on white squares of paper and pinned them to a memorial created on a hallway bulletin board.
"Mr. Miok … he was the best ever," said Marie Bolianatz, 13. "He always made us laugh and smile, and when we were in a not-so-great mood, he would always come to us and sit down with us and make us smile and just try to just help us out."
Miok, 28, was a contract teacher who taught physical education at the Catholic junior high school in 2008-09.
Bolianatz remembered Miok, who was her homeroom, religion and health teacher, as a peaceful man who was "like a super-hero."
"He always wanted us to be peaceful and not to fight with anybody," she said. "He wanted us to be the best we could be."
Grade 8 student Daniel Deck said he got the news of his physical education teacher's death from one of his friends on Facebook.
"I loved almost everything about him. He was a cool guy. I respected him," Deck said, who also remembered Miok for his ability to quiet down some of the "hooligans" in class.
Miok remembered for infectious smile
Miok was also remembered by teacher Ross Caria for his "big infectious smile" and the stories he told while tending bar in the evenings at a downtown Edmonton pub. The suddenness of Miok's death makes it hard for people to accept, Caria said.
"Most staff saw him a few months ago when he came to visit the school just before he left for his deployment to Afghanistan," he said, "and I think nobody ever really expects to say goodbye for a final time when they see someone."
Six counsellors at the school Monday will remain there Tuesday and return when the school holds a memorial service, said Sandra Talarico, co-ordinator of the crisis response team.
"Sometimes it's the memorial service that brings out … deeper feelings that we find that we need to work with the students on," she said.
Miok, who grew up in Sherwood Park, east of Edmonton, was a member of the 41 Combat Engineer Regiment based in Edmonton.
He was killed in the attack, along with Cpl. Zachery McCormack, 21, also from Sherwood Park; Sgt. Kirk Taylor, 28, of Yarmouth, N.S.; Pte. Garrett William Chidley, 21, of Langley, B.C., and Michelle Lang, 34, a reporter with the Calgary Herald who was originally from Vancouver.
It was earlier reported that Sgt. George Miok was killed on Dec. 23. In fact, the bombing occurred Dec. 30.Jan 08, 2010 6:55 AM MT