New Brunswick

2nd Saint John High student death prompts crisis response

School officials described the atmosphere at Saint John High School as subdued on Tuesday, as students and faculty struggled to come to terms with the death of a popular athlete and musician.

Counsellors on hand to support students, faculty struggling to deal with 2 deaths this year

Dealing with student death

8 years ago
Duration 2:12
Saint John High School is dealing with the sudden death of another student. 2:12

School officials described the atmosphere at Saint John High School as subdued on Tuesday, as students and faculty struggled to come to terms with the death of a popular athlete and musician.

The body of Gavin Adams, 17, was found on Monday in a parking lot at the corner of Chesley Drive and Hilyard Street, not far from his last known location.

This is the second tragedy involving a Saint John High student this fall. Earlier in the school year Genevieve Cormier, 19, was found dead after an extensive search.

Anglophone South Superintendent Zoe Watson said the school is being helped through the grieving process.

"When tragedy strikes two or three times it does make the school and staff feel there's a dark cloud over them," said Watson.

"We certainly do all we can to reach out to the staff and the students to support them today and in the coming days."

The district's crisis response protocol was launched Monday night after police gave school officials a courtesy call, said Watson. Teachers were invited to a special staff meeting and were handed a message to pass on to students in their home rooms.

A special counsellor was also on hand for teachers, and supply teachers were brought in on standby, in case teachers needed a break.

Students left messages, shared memories

Centres staffed with guidance teachers were set up to help students deal with the news as well, said Watson.

"It was a difficult day," she said.

"I would say, from being in the school, I learned a lot about Gavin and what an active student he was in extracurricular activities with rugby and choir, and the swim team, and interesting to hear students share their stories and memories.

"Mid-morning, a small Christmas tree was placed in the lobby, and students attached notes and thanked Gavin for making them laugh and smile. It was very heartwarming to read their messages."

Watson said the district offers counselling and extra support whenever a school is faced with a tragedy. Last school year there were nine student or staff deaths across the district.

"It does take its toll, it is difficult and I know sometimes they think they had more than their share and wonder why, but we do continue to work with them and support them," said Watson.

"[On Tuesday] staff were freely coming up with names of students they felt should be monitored in the coming days. And we'll continue to support that school for as long as we need to."

As a member of the swim team, Adams placed third in the 200 metre freestyle in provincial championships on Saturday. That was the same day he disappeared.

His parents, Sonja and David Adams, are well known throughout the province as members of the Saint John String Quartet and Symphony New Brunswick. The symphony dedicated its performance of George Frideric Handel's Messiah in Fredericton Tuesday night, and Saint John Wednesday to the teen.

Police have not revealed a cause of death. They say foul play is not suspected.