Daviot Kelly, Staff Reporter
It's a scene that is becoming too familiar, and not in a good way: grieving students weeping openly, and teary-eyed teachers trying to console them.
Once again, this was the picture at Holmwood Technical High School in Manchester.
This after four more students were killed in an early-morning accident on their way to school yesterday. There was a feeling there was no simple 'moving on' from this one.
"I've seen accidents before, but I've never experienced anything like this," said staff member Patricia Reid-Clarke.
"This one I can't get past."
Reid-Clarke said she was among a few teachers travelling behind the ill-fated bus that collided with a truck on the Chudleigh main road.
Reid-Clarke was especially sad about the passing of one student, whom she felt could have been saved.
"We just couldn't get the back door open," she lamented. "You could see her wrenching in pain."
Teacher Avaria Harris said the school has not fully recovered from another crash in January.
"We didn't have any casualties then, but nothing has been done. If something was done about it - the way these bus men transport these students - it would have stopped," she said.
"This is just too much, just too much."
Principal Paul Bailey was a troubled man. He explained that the school has chartered two buses to transport students to and from the institution. But he still had to hear the dreaded phone calls again, just like in April 2011, when four other students died.
The principal has heard the rumours that the school is cursed and he is sick of it. He implored the students to be strong.
"It is very difficult, but we just have to lean on the Lord," he said.
BONDING IN GRIEF
After an emergency meeting of the school's administration, a special devotion was held. Guidance counsellors from nearby schools, including Christiana High (whom Holmwood were scheduled to play in the daCosta Cup yesterday afternoon), and Mizpah All-Age, came to offer support.
It was hoped the grief could lead to a closer bond. Teachers and students who may not have interacted in a regular classroom setting were now one family, helping each other heal.
"We find strength in a storm," Reid-Clarke said, noting that some students helped to dry her tears. "This gives you that reassurance and love and comfort. This is not a time when we stay away from each other."