Search officially suspended for Evan and Damian McManus

School efforts offer support for students, staff

Artis Curiskis and Amira Warren

Ivy Kaplan

Hallways throughout the high school took on a somber tone April 10 after Superintendent Rob Metz announced the previous night that searches for Evan and Damian McManus had been called off.

“Our hearts are with the family during this incredibly difficult time,” Metz said in his District-wide announcement. “This is a sad time for St. Louis Park Public Schools.”

According to public information officer for the Alpine Rescue Team Bill Barwick the Clear Creek County sheriff’s office made the decision to end the search after four days of searching remained inconclusive.

Although concluding for the time being, Barwick said searches are not officially over, and will continue in the future when conditions are more favorable.

“We didn’t call it off, we suspended it. There was nothing else to be learned after going back in again with the amount of snow and bad weather approaching,” he said. “We’ll probably go back in there a lot, we’d guess, in the next 60 days or less to see what we can find then.”

However, while search actions dwindled down in Colorado, support for Evan and Damian, as well as those coping with their loss, increased within the high school.

To show support for the McManus family, staff and students such as senior Kazi Arifuzzaman wore orange April 10, raising awareness for the situation.

Arifuzzaman said it was important to him to participate in the dress code to show his continuing hope for a positive ending to the search.

“Evan is our friend. We played soccer together and I have classes with him,” Arifuzzaman said. “It’s really sad they stopped searching for them, so I wish that they keep looking for them and wish they’re alive somewhere. That’s why I decided to wear orange.”

Multiple forms of counseling were also provided by the district to offer help to both students and teachers who attended school April 10.

According to Principal Joann Karetov, staff members met the day before to determine what actions would take place. Additionally, she consulted with the student council president to determine what students further felt they needed in terms of support.

“We have crisis plans, but you never can plan for a particular thing,” Karetov said.

Support took place in the forms of counseling groups available throughout the day involving current high school counselors, as well as others from around the District.

Additionally, Paws for Learning, a service providing canine teams during times of crisis, traveled throughout classrooms with a team of three dogs for students to pet and relieve grief.

Aside from school-led programs, seniors also showed their support and community values for Evan and Damian in another way by painting the senior wall in memory of them the night of April 10.

Rose Evensen, a senior who participated in the artwork, said she thinks it helped the senior class bond as a whole and cope with the tragedy.

“I think it was nice to see that everyone was kind of on the same page,” Evensen said. “We’re all like a family and we all stick together, especially during this time, so I think it helped to all be together.”

While support has been evident locally at Park, Barwick said he thinks it’s important to recognize the support of Colorado searchers as well who volunteered their time and effort.

“They were all volunteer, professional mountain rescuers, and all of those folks are unpaid,” Barwick said. “I don’t want anyone to forget that it wasn’t a matter of how much money or anything like that. These folks dedicated four days to trying to find them.”

Moving forward, Karetov said the school will address the situation on a daily basis and continue providing support as long as it is needed, including small group counseling in the following weeks.

Despite the circumstances, Karetov also said she thinks the current tragedy, as well as others the District has recently encountered, have helped the community come together and strengthen as a whole.

“It’s amazing how much love and support this community has for each other,” she said.

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