When that happens in our school and unfortunately, we have lost several
students in our school due to violence-gang warfare or even car accidents
like your case--we always consult our school psychologist. She always has
great advice for the teachers.
One of the teachers died last year of AIDS--I had the kids make tissue
paper flowers for him and I took the flowers to his funeral. His mother put
the flowers in his casket--she was so touched. So I must say, that activity
was successful at that time.
One of our boys was killed by gang crossfire recently. His friends came
to my class and drew a card with his name R.I.P. The kids wanted to do that
and I provided the emotional support. It was their idea--not mine. So that
worked. I take my lead from the kids. If they bring up the subject matter,
we talk (I let them do MOST of the TALKING --they NEED it!) . If they don't
bring it up, that okay too. It's up to them.
As you know, it's hard to hide your feelings when it comes to
expressing yourself in art. In many assignments I have presented to the
students this year--no matter the subject matter (landscapes, still life,
portraits, etc)...they always manage to include the Twin Towers along with
the airplane crashing into it for the background. This shocking &
despicable act has been on their minds. This is a way to get rid of that
heavy, heavy weight on their shoulders that many children find it difficult
to express orally.