Allen Girls Were 'Just a Ray of Sunshine,' Principal Says
Chapman School tackles grief head-on with team of counselors
Students and staff at Chapman Elementary School were painfully aware that two girls did not rejoin them in today as classes resumed after spring break.
Instead, they were met in their classrooms by a team of grief counselors who talked about how to deal with the death of fourth-grader Kerri Allen and the devastating injury to her sister, Kayla, a fifth-grader.
"The kids have a lot of questions," Principal Andy Trujillo said Monday morning. "There's been a lot of good discussion."
The girls' father, Kevin Allen, 51, gunned down his wife, Kate, and both daughters at the Cracker Barrel restaurant in Brooklyn April 12. Kate and Kerri were killed; Kayla remains in critical condition at MetroHealth Medical Center.
Police say he shot Kate at their table, then followed the girls, who fled to a restroom, and shot them there.
Kevin Allen was shot and killed by police as he left the restaurant with the shotgun.
Neighbors and friends say the girls were always happy, friendly and smiling, and Trujillo said that's an accurate portrayal.
"They did always have a smile on their faces," Trujillo said. "I talked to them every day. They were a joy."
He said Kerri volunteered to help kindergartners every day and often stayed in at recess to assist teachers.
"The were just a ray of sunshine," he said. "Then you think about those smiling, happy faces and the horror they experienced."
After presentations to the classes, grief counselors were available in the media center for pupils who wanted to talk more about the tragedy, and Trujillo said several kids had already taken advantage of the one-on-one counseling.
Otherwise, lessons resumed late this morning.
"That's important for the grieving process -- getting back to normal, to a regular school day," Trujillo said.