'Difficult and raw': Belfast school community mourns death of young student

Extra counsellors and psychologists remain on hand at Belfast Consolidated - four days after a young student died at the school.

Family asking for donations to IWK Health Centre

Trayton John-Preston Acton died during the Terry Fox Run at Belfast School. (Randy McAndrew/CBC)

Extra counsellors and psychologists remain on hand at Belfast Consolidated — four days after a young student died  at the school. 

Trayton John-Preston Acton (Knox) was nine-years-old.

"The death occurred suddenly at the Belfast School while participating in the Terry Fox Run which he loved," according to his obituary.

"It's been difficult and raw. That would be the best word I can use right now," said Terri MacAdam, Director of Student Services with the Public Schools Branch. 

During his Monday morning announcements posted on the school's website, principal John Munro said students and staff were "shocked and saddened" by the death, and described Trayton as a "loved and valued member of our school community" who "will be missed greatly." 

Terri MacAdam, the director of student services with the Public Schools Branch, says her support staff are guiding teachers and parents on how to explain what happened to young children. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

MacAdam says extra counsellors and psychologists have been at the school since Sunday, to support students and staff one-on-one, and to help guide teachers and parents on how to explain to their young children what happened. 

'Use real words ... with young children' 

"The best approach is always to be honest.  And that's what we tell our parents — deal with facts, not what you suppose could be," said MacAdam.  

"You tell the children it's really important to be able to talk to Mom and Dad and to people you're close to about how you're feeling. And we encourage people to use real words when you're dealing with young children. Because things like 'gone away' — that's just not solid enough."

There will a visitation at Ferguson-Logan Montague Funeral home Wednesday, and a funeral service at St. John's Presbyterian Church in Belfast Thursday.

The school will be closed the day of the funeral. 

The family has asked for donations to the pediatric intensive care unit at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax.

RCMP said there was no criminality connected to the incident.

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