PUNXSUTAWNEY â€” Following a week of tragedy and scandal locally and statewide, Officials with the Punxsutawney Area School District made heartfelt statements at the beginning and the end of Mondayâ€™s school board meeting.
â€śOn behalf of the school board, administration, faculty, staff and students of the Punxsutawney Area School District, I would like to extend heartfelt condolences to the families of Dylan Behrendt, Sean McConnaughey and Joel Riggleman,â€ť Superintendent Dr. Keith Wolfe said during the boardâ€™s moment of silent meditation Monday. â€śWe would also like to assure the Smith family that they continue to be in our thoughts and prayers for a speedy and full recovery for Blair.â€ť
The four students were involved in a violent one-vehicle crash Friday night along Route 839, just south of Route 1022, Wayne Township, Armstrong County.
Behrendt, McConnaughey and Riggleman â€” all 2011 graduates of PAHS â€” were killed in the crash, while Smith was transported to Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, where he was listed in critical condition Sunday, according to Kittanning-based Pennsylvania State Police.
A phone call to Allegheny General regarding Smithâ€™s updated condition was not returned Monday.
Following the school boardâ€™s meeting Monday, PAHS Principal David London said counselors offering words of support to students were busy, while a number of teachers also had some discussion about the incident in class. â€śIt was pretty quiet,â€ť he said about Mondayâ€™s classes.
London also said a number of students were planning to attend viewings for Behrendt and McConnaughey at the McCabe Funeral Home that night. â€śThey need to go,â€ť he said.
A blessing service and a funeral Mass will be held for Behrendt and McConnaughey today at the McCabe Funeral Home and SS.C.D. Church, respectively, while viewings will be held for Riggleman today and a funeral service tomorrow, both at the Christian Missionary Alliance Church.
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Also, at the end of the meeting, board President Gary Conrad read a statement regarding an alleged sex scandal involving young children and a former Penn State football coach that has shaken the university and its alumni, fans and Pennsylvanians.
â€śWith all the negative news, let us all in the Punxsutawney School District and the Punxsutawney community use this as awareness into our own moral responsibility as adults,â€ť he read.
â€śLet us do more to educate our students that there is help available,â€ť Conrad read. â€śWhether itâ€™s abuse, drugs, bullying, depression or just needing someone to talk to, we as adults need to be there for that child. No child should stand alone.
â€śWe all need to become more aware of what is going on around us â€” illegal and immoral. Step forward; itâ€™s the right thing to do,â€ť he said.
â€śThere is no joy in what I have said, but there is no joy in a tragic story,â€ť Conrad read. â€śFor Punxsy, our most valuable resource is our children. It is our moral duty to protect them.â€ť