Washington Evening Journal
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Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 28, 2014

Highland officials react to accident

By Xiomara Levsen | Aug 22, 2014

Thursday afternoon two students from Highland High School were involved a car accident.
Kathryn “Katie” Gerot, and Murphy Beinhart, both ninth-graders at Highland High School, were in a single vehicle accident on 170th and Tulip Avenue south of Riverside, an accident report from the Iowa State Patrol said. Gerot was airlifted to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, the accident report said.
Beinhart was taken to Washington County Hospital and later transferred to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, said Highland High School principal Angela Hazelett.  
Hazelett found out about the accident shortly after it happened Thursday afternoon.
“I was on a run east of the high school and Peg [Hunter, secretary at the high school] called to say there was an accident and they were Highland students,” she said.
Later that evening Hazelett went to the hospital to see if there was anything she could do for the families.
“I just went to offer support,” Hazelett said. “I spoke with Katie’s parents [in person] and spoke with Murphy over the phone. There were also some students waiting, so I talked with them as well.”
She also posted a message on the Highland High School Facebook page about the car accident.
“A lot of people weren’t sure what their condition was and I asked the parents if it would be OK for me to put something on there,” Hazelett said. “The parents OK’d it.”
Today, students and staff at the school are still trying to deal with the news of the accident.
“Things are pretty subdued,” Hazelett said. “This is definitely a topic on everyone’s mind.”
Friday morning Hazelett held a staff meeting and student assembly to discuss the basics of the car accident.
“I brought the entire student body into the gym for 10 minutes,” Hazelett said.
She told the students not to focus on the rumors or judgment but to focus on the health of the girls who were in the accident.
“I told the students the girls were making progress and that we need to keep their health and well-being the focus of our thoughts,” Hazelett said. “I offered students the opportunity to speak with our school counselor, Mrs. Werning, and myself throughout the day if they needed to talk.”
Highland Superintendent Chris Armstrong said depending on the situation the district could ask for help from a crisis team.
“Generally when there’s an accident like this we don’t bring in anyone,” he said. “Thank the Lord it [the accident] wasn’t a death. If it was, the local AEA has a crisis team of counselors that we could bring in.”
The counselor, Deb Werning, is available to meet with the students if they need to speak with someone, Armstrong said.
He said he hasn’t spoken to the girls’ families yet.
“That will probably come later down the road,” Armstrong said. “The parents have enough to deal with right now.”

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