A debriefing is strictly confidential, Lillie said.
“Our goal is to get everyone to talk about their feelings and emotions, because if you talk about it, you will heal faster,” Lillie said.
Healing the community
Kremlin-Hillsdale High School, where Bryce studies, and Chisholm High School, where Tyler is a student, immediately recognized the impact the tragedy would have on the boys’ classmates.
In fact, Kremlin-Hillsdale enrollment was the same day as the accident, so the school’s first chance to help students deal with the event was that evening.
Superintendant Steve Hoffsommer said Harris and Lillie came to enrollment to talk with Bryce’s classmates. Hoffsommer also talked to the students.
“I drove to Oklahoma City to the hospital and was with the family that day,” Hoffsommer recalled. “I was with them when the doctor talked to them.”
Hoffsommer said the kids were given accurate information about Bryce’s injuries and his status.
Additionally, school staff talked to students about Bryce at an assembly on the first day of class, two weeks after the accident. The school arranged a senior class trip to Oklahoma City to see Bryce on the second day of school, because 10 of the students had not been able to see Bryce after the accident.
“He was sitting up in bed,” Hoffsommer said. “I think that was such a relief for them to go in there and see him. And I think that was the first time those who were there had a sense of ease.”
Support was available at school any time students needed it.
“Because we’re such a small school, every one of our faculty members knew Bryce,” Hoffsommer said. “We knew that any time the kids needed to talk about it, the teachers would take time to talk.”
Jaymie Morley, Chisholm High School principal, said that on the day of the accident, a number of people went to Oklahoma City.
“Three of us got the word from his mother while he was still caught in the auger and we went to the Kremlin grain elevator, but they were gone,” Morley said.
The assistant principal, Morley and the superintendent, Roydon Tilley, as well as about 40 students and their parents all went to Oklahoma City that day and evening.
School officials also reached out to churches in the community to call for a prayer service.
“The day it happened we started banners and cards and a poster to send get-well messages and give the kids a place to express their feelings,” Morley said.
School staff at Chisholm also served as a point of information about Tyler.
“On the first day of school, we had a bulletin board that had updates on it,” Morley said. “Tyler’s dad sent us daily updates on how Tyler was doing.”
The bulletin board also had information on fundraisers that were taking place. A card was always on the board, and as it was filled up, it was sent to Tyler and another card was placed.
“We were at his home when he came home, and that was pretty awesome,” Morley said.
Morley points to the wider effect the tragedy had, touching people beyond northwest Oklahoma.
“It touched a lot of people,” Morley said. “There is a lady who lives in Florida who has connections to Enid. She began praying for the boys.”
While Tyler still was in the hospital, the woman came to visit him in the hospital. She also made a quilt for Tyler.