#schoolsafety | Ridge H.S. Administration Statement on Death of 2019 Graduate Peter DeSalvo

BASKING RIDGE, NJ — Ridge High School Acting Principal Karen Hudock and the school’s assistant principals have issued the following statement/email addressing the death this weekend of Peter DeSalvo, a 2019 graduate of the school:

Dear Parents/Guardians: 

It is with great sadness that we inform you that Peter DeSalvo, a 2019 Ridge graduate, passed away this weekend. We know that the community will be affected by this tragic loss. 

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When we hear of another person’s death, it is very common for our own feelings about death to surface. Your children may experience a variety of feelings related to death and dying. These feelings may focus on the person who has died, another person who died in the past, an impending death, or anxiety about death in general. These are all very normal feelings for children and adults to have. Accepting and validating your child’s feelings is beneficial. During the weeks and months ahead, confusing feelings may surface periodically. It is helpful for your child to discuss them with a parent or trusted adults. 

As a district, we encourage you to listen carefully to your child. Professionals suggest answering questions openly and honestly as they occur, and letting children know that even adults do not have all the answers concerning questions about death. Many of us find this to be a confusing time and an awkward topic to discuss, but open communication is always the best path through difficult issues. 

Below are some resources that may be beneficial in assisting you to understand the grieving process from a child’s point of view and to open the lines of communication: 

● National Association of School Psychologists – Addressing Grief in Children https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources/school-safety-and-crisis/addressing-grief 

● Mental Health America – Helping Children Cope with Loss https://www.mhanational.org/helping-children-cope-loss 

● Child Mind Institute – Helping Children Deal with Grief https://childmind.org/article/helping-children-deal-grief/ 

● American Foundation of Suicide Prevention – Risk Factors and Warning Signs of Suicide https://afsp.org/about-suicide/risk-factors-and-warning-signs/ 

We also recognize that additional support may be needed as school, at this time. Counselors from the schools are available for your children. Please encourage your son or daughter to go to the Counseling Department/Child Study Team if they need someone to help them process their grief. The Somerset County Traumatic Loss Coalition, a part of the Richard Hall Community Mental Health Center, has also offered their support to the district during this time and are on site at Ridge for additional support. For more information about this community agency, please visit http://www.co.somerset.nj.us/government/human-services/mental-health. 

In this very sad time, it is important that we come together to support one another. 

Sincerely, Karen A. Hudock Karen A. Hudock Acting Principal Ridge High School 

Scott Graber Assistant Principal 

Cherie Howarth Assistant Principal 

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