PENN HILLS, Pa. (KDKA) — A memorial is planned during a period of tremendous loss in one local school district.
Four young men have died over the past four weeks in the Penn Hills School District.READ MORE: Pa. State Police Searching For Valentine Eiler, Missing 80-Year-Old Man Near Meadville
“They all touched a large part of the student body in their own way,” said Penn Hills High School Principal Eric Kostic.
Since the deaths of Day Meir Boyd, Darin Hobdy, Jason Jackson and Jason Lott — all 17-year-old students at Penn Hills High School — the building has been filled with heartache.
“The silence was palpable,” said Kostic.
The deaths have been happening since April, including two back-to-back. According to the district, one was a drug overdose and the other three were the results of gun violence.
WATCH: KDKA’s Lindsay Ward Reports
“Every October, we celebrate the week of non-violence. And that’s sponsored by Black Women for Positive Change,” Superintendant Nancy Hines said.READ MORE: Pittsburgh Weather: Warm Temperatures For Last Day Of Summer
Hines also told KDKA that the district is asking people to take part in a pledge against violence on social media, among other continued efforts to prevent gun violence. But for now, school leaders are focused on healing.
“These are kids. These were a woman’s baby at a period of time. And they really do matter,” said Hines.
Students have been keeping the memories alive with a bulletin board in the hallway made by the Black Student Union. It displays the names of lost loved ones.
A crisis response team has been providing counseling from an RV outside the school.
“The message has to be out there to the kids that we’re hurting. It’s OK. We’re going to help you get through this,” Hines told KDKA.
“Hold those memories close because those are the things that are going to bring a smile to your face. If you are upset or sad, reach out to somebody. We’re all here to help,” said Kostic.
The trauma response team will return to the school on Thursday. The district reminds students who are learning from home that services are available for them, too.MORE NEWS: Hempfield Area School Board Considering Legal Action Against Pennsylvania
The memorial is scheduled for Thursday at 6 p.m. at the main entrance of the high school.