Support for students continues after Jablonski accident

Anna Landis and Brian Tobelmann

Last Thursday morning at 7:40, the chapel was packed with people, hands clasped, heads bowed, clothed in white. Fast-forward to Monday’s prayer service: three sophomore boys sat alone, grieving the tragedy of their fellow classmate, Jack Jablonski. As the public nature of students’ responses has lessened, Benilde-St. Margaret’s is concerned about the internalization of these responses and have set up a long-term support system.

The student response to Jablonski’s injury has been driven by the strong emotions from a tragedy happening so close to the BSM community. “We read about these things in the newspaper, we see it on TV, but it doesn’t really touch home until it happens to one of your own,” said Campus Minister, Mike Jeremiah.

This is not the first time tragedy has struck BSM, and this time, the community has rallied just as they have always done before. “In the past, everyone has supported each other when something bad happens, but this is ten times greater than anything I have seen from any other school,” said counselor Jeff Steffenson.

Despite this large amount of support from the community, it doesn’t necessarily make tragedies like these easy to handle. “We have someone available every period for students that just need to come in and talk about it, share their feelings, or whatever,” said Dr. Steffenson.

In the coming weeks, the BSM counselors will be keeping up with the students closest to Jablonski, making sure they are doing well, but they are equally concerned about students that did not know him and may not necessarily seek out the counselors for help. “Some students who didn’t know him personally are feeling fear that they could get hurt or guilt because [their actions could have] hurt someone in their own sport,” said counselor Amanda Anderson.

The school has also raised concern over students being too engulfed in keeping up with Jablonski and his conditions and focusing less on school and sleep. “Our largest worry is that we are hearing of a lot of people keeping up to date on Facebook, Twitter, and CaringBridge, instead of sleeping or doing homework and it is a concern that a lot of students are spending too much time on this,” said Mrs. Anderson.

The media spotlight on this tragedy will dim, but Dr. Steffenson expressed his concern for those students who have not yet found solace in the community and reminded students to continually be mindful of both Jablonski and one another. “It doesn’t take a lot, just a hello in the halls or a short message to [Jack] to show that you are still thinking and praying for him,” said Dr. Steffenson.

The counselors recommend that students should attempt to return to as much of a normal, constructive routine as possible. “It can be awkward for students to move on after this hurt and pain because they feel like they are abandoning him, but they need to know it is okay to be happy and move on while still keeping him in our prayers,” said Mrs. Anderson.

The school hopes that these difficult weeks will leave a lasting impression on everyone to value their influence in others’ lives and use the power of relationships and prayer to overcome future adversity. “We all have a tendency to turn to God when times are hard, and we can turn prayer into a big Advil…but [we must] realize that God is there all the time,” said Mr. Jeremiah.

Even as the worldwide support for Jablonski and BSM fades, Dr. Steffenson and Mr. Jeremiah are both confident that this event has bound the BSM community more closely. “Regardless of if kids know Jack or not, I think it has had a tremendous impact on our entire school…because we are a family,” said Mr. Jeremiah.