Share “At school, love is greatest asset”

by Bryan Painter Published: August 10, 2008

Another is a green plaque given by the girls' families to the school reading, "In Loving Memory of Taylor & Skyla.”

And throughout the school, students and teachers wear purple and green wristbands handed out on enrollment day, Aug. 1, that read "In Memory of Taylor and Skyla BFF,” which stands for "Best Friends Forever.”

"We had a couple of students who couldn't take them for whatever reason,” Mankin said. "I said I would keep them in case they wanted them later.”

Before that first day, Virginia Tedlock, a psychologist and graduate of Graham High School, came in to talk to teachers. She talked not only about the present, but also about the future.

"She talked about when someone is arrested,” Chancey said. "That will effect them. So we needed a plan.”

As for the present, teachers referred a couple of students to Tedlock for counseling about dealing with the deaths of their classmates.

School and community
One important thing hasn't changed, Chancey said. This is his 17th year as superintendent of Graham Schools. It also marks the first time he hasn't had to hire a new teacher.

"That did help,” he said. "We have the same people and they are very cohesive.”

As Chancey sat in his office Friday, his right elbow was next to a large plastic jar featuring pictures of the girls.

Below the pictures, Taylor and Skyla were described as "two very smart and beautiful girls and most of all best friends to the end.”

It asked for donations that would be divided between the families.

Mankin told Chancey that someone from the nearby community of Dustin had dropped off the jar containing bills and coins.

This is an example of Graham's greatest asset, the superintendent said.

It's not the money, but the concern and the willingness to help in any way possible.

"One of the biggest assets we have is our staff and community,” he said. "You've seen how everybody jumps up and pulls together.

"We've got our routine going, but we don't know what's going to happen next. So that is the biggest asset we have.”

That compassion is very important to everyone, including Mankin. But with two months having passed, many answers still can't be found.

"We still have people calling and wanting to know what they can do for us,” she said.

"We don't know. They can't do what we want.”

by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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