Superintendent releases statement ahead of Townville Elementary - FOX Carolina 21

Superintendent releases statement ahead of Townville Elementary shooting anniversary

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Memorial after shooting at Townville Elementary (Sep. 29, 2016/FOX Carolina) Memorial after shooting at Townville Elementary (Sep. 29, 2016/FOX Carolina)
TOWNVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Thursday will mark one year since a school shooting rocked a small Upstate community and claimed the life of a first-grade student.

On the afternoon of September 28, 2016, shots rang out on the Townville Elementary School playground.

911 dispatchers said they received a call about an active shooter at 1:44 p.m.

Jacob Hall, 6, was shot in the leg. Two other students and a teacher were also hurt. Jacob died from his injuries a few days later.

Townville firefighter Jamie Brock confronted the teenage suspect and held him until deputies arrived.

Deputies said the 14-year-old shot and killed his father, 47-year-old Jeffrey Osborne, before driving to the school.

Anderson County School District Four Superintendent, Dr. Joanne Avery said the school, along with the entire Townville community, is still healing in the from this tragedy.

"We think about it every day and we grieve for the victims," said Dr. Avery.

Dr. Avery said teachers at Townville Elementary spent the year nurturing and supporting students, focusing on recovery, rather than reliving the tragedy. 

"The administration, the leadership and the teachers were determined to ensure that this incident would not define them,” said Dr. Avery.

Dr. Avery said three's not a day that goes by that they don't think about and honor Jacob.

"He was a joyful person, he exuded kindness and wanted to be friends to others," said Avery, "Today and every day we think about those messages and lessons that he modeled and how we can learn from those and be better people ourselves."

Dr. Avery posted this emotional note on Facebook Tuesday, two days before the anniversary:

“These past few days have been filled with lots of emotion for our Anderson 4 family. We lost Denny Clark, a former employee and friend to all who had the fortune to know him. His big heart, loving smile and laughter will be missed by our community and a generation of Bulldogs. We are also thankful for the swift actions of first responders who cared for Coach Paul Sutherland. Coach Sutherland has influenced the lives of many students over the years. He has instilled in them the values of hard work, perseverance, belief, and sportsmanship - important life lessons. We look forward to his return. Both families continue to be in our daily thoughts and prayers.

This week also marks the one-year anniversary of the tragedy at Townville Elementary School. While there will be a lot of information shared by others, I would like to express some personal thoughts and messages that are important to me and the staff of Townville Elementary School.

First and foremost, while the anniversary is prompting media attention, here in Townville and Anderson 4, there is not a day that goes by that we don’t remember and grieve for Jacob and all the victims. For us, our grief and remembrances are personal. Each day, we honor Jacob by remembering the important lessons of joy, kindness, and friendship that he modeled. On the anniversary and each day forward, we will continue to focus on these important things along with student and staff well-being, academic progress and community outreach. And, our first responders and faith-based leaders will forever hold a place of honor and appreciation.

Townville has always been close-knit and that was evident before the incident, during this event, and in the time that followed. The world observed and was given a glimpse into the tremendous love, support, positive attitudes, community outreach, and heart that is Townville. As a result, Townville Elementary School and the Townville community have been successful in continuing to nurture a “Townville Strong” culture. Staff, families, and the community walked through dark days and have come together with a profound sense of strength and gratitude for the love and concern extended towards them. They are committed to helping others learn the importance of service and giving to others.

As a school and district family, we have learned that events such as this are life-changing. We will never get over what happened and that should never be the goal. Our hope is as we do our best to nurture and support our students, their families, and our staff, we grow stronger as a school community. Our focus will remain helping our students learn strategies that can help them address not only with the tragedy, but with future adversity. And most importantly, they can emerge from this more resilient and more able to deal with future challenges.

Townville Elementary School continues to focus on their children and the school’s love of learning. The teachers never lost sight of this and have worked tirelessly to enable their students’ emotional well-being and academic progress. This is a testament to the teaching staff and leadership at Townville who have demonstrated tremendous resilience and determination to not let this single event define them.

We thank you for the outpouring of love, concern, and support as we continue our journey forward. In a time with so much divisiveness, take time to spread some kindness to each other. God’s grace to all those dealing with tragedy.”

PREVIOUSLY: Nearly a year after Townville Elementary shooting, superintendent talks safety changes

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