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NCCC, Franklin Academy grieve students’ deaths

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MALONE — Tuesday was anything but a routine day for North Country Community College and Franklin Academy, as students and staff at each school coped with the death of a student.

NCCC freshman Troy McDonough, 18, Westville, and Franklin Academy junior Jackie Boyer, 16, Malone, died Monday in separate suicides. State police said the two incidents were not related.

Counselors from Citizens Advocates Inc. and Hospice of the North Country were on hand at NCCC to provide students and faculty with support and information to deal with the tragedy, said Roberta Karp, director of campus and student life.

“We have staff on heightened alert,” she said. “We’re trying to approach it from a variety of angles, not only for students, but for staff as well.”

With Mr. McDonough’s death deemed a suicide, Ms. Karp said the campus hoped to send a message to students that they have the resources available to them to deal with tough situations.

“They’re not alone, and they have the support at their disposal to get through difficult times,” she said. “We’re very saddened about his loss. Our condolences go out to his friends and family.”

While the college has no plans to close or cancel classes, Ms. Karp said there will likely be plans for some kind of memorial to Mr. McDonough, though it is still too early to have definite plans in place.

“We’re not ready to make a final decision,” she said. “We’ve lost students in the past, and the students have come up with wonderful ideas. We want to do this thoughtfully. … I expect we will definitely make a plan to honor Troy.”

Mr. McDonough graduated from Salmon River Central School in 2011, Superintendent Jane A. Collins said.

“We’re very saddened to hear of his death,” Miss Collins said. “Our hearts go out to the family.”

Franklin Academy Principal Jerry Griffin said the high school had counselors available from the district’s elementary schools, while middle school counselors were on standby but were also assisting students and staff there.

Clergy from local churches and counselors from Citizens Advocates were also on hand to support students and staff. Mr. Griffin also said the school closed the library so students could use that as a proper place to handle their grief.

“We’ve turned that into a safe zone for kids to come and be with one another,” he said, noting students could either seek the help of counselors or talk to their friends there. “It’s time for them to do just that. A lot of kids have taken advantage of it.”

While classes continued as scheduled Tuesday, Mr. Griffin said teachers had the option of giving their usual lessons or using class time to help students cope with the tragedy. It was anything but ordinary, but he said he was proud of how staff and students were carrying on with the day.

“We’ve gotten through the day pretty well,” he said. “I feel good about the way we’re handling it.”

Though classes continued as scheduled, Franklin Academy canceled its home track and field meet against Salmon River and Gouverneur.

Mr. Griffin said the school was waiting on word of arrangements before making its own plans for a memorial, but students were already working on a show of support to Ms. Boyer’s family.

Mr. Griffin said he knew Ms. Boyer as a person who both respected and was respected by her teachers and fellow students.

“She was well liked by everyone here,” he said. “She was a fantastic student.”

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