Albert Lea High School Director Chris Dibble said the fifth staff worked with the families of three students who had died in recent years, but would graduate in 2022 to find out how to recognize their loved ones at upcoming school events.
Dibble said staff met with one family and approached two other families of students who had died.
“We are also in daily contact with representatives of the 2022 class to find the most appropriate ways to commemorate lost students,” Dibble said in an email to the Tribune. “As a district, we’ve always found ways to recognize deceased students at important events, such as the beginning.”
Dibble’s remarks were in response to Tuesday’s afternoon post on Facebook, which spread to Albert Leo High School students who asked for help from parents of students attending the school. The students claimed that Dibble denied the students the opportunity to honor their deceased classmates at the upcoming graduation.
The post read: “As many of you know, we are still saddened by the loss of our peers in our school, and we are simply asking for three chairs for the 2021-2022 class in 2022 to commemorate the three students we grew up with. The top keeps keeping deep and close in our hearts.
“It simply came to our notice then [Principal Chris Dibble] he said something along the lines of “these students are no longer part of our school, they are sick.” [sic]
“Is it really too much to ask for three more chairs in memory of these three beloved students?”
Dibble he said that any report that he or any member of the administrative team had denied students the opportunity to remember and celebrate class members was not true.
In an e-mail sent to staff on Tuesday night, Dibble said that so far no upper class member or high school staff had made a plan in honor of the students, but that the plan would come. He also said that no part of the yearbook about students graduating in 2022 but dying had ever been submitted to the administration for approval. In addition, he said that no students who sent photos to a senior exhibition outside the media center were left out.
“With a large number of mixed messages being sent, a strong emotional response is completely understandable, “he said. “We are working to create a plan that meets the needs of all our students.”
The principal said he also appeared in a five-minute “Pawz,” a daily student news video that explained to students what was going on.
He apologized to the students for any misunderstandings that might have occurred and said he looked forward to working with the class in 2022 and the school as a whole to honor the students as they thought they should do so.
Albert Lea Area Schools issued a previous statement on Tuesday afternoon:
“Concerns have been expressed about a potential memorial for students who graduated in 2022.
“Historically, Albert Lea Area Schools have done some form of recognition for deceased students. We are currently working to determine the best way to move forward. When making plans, we will contact families to obtain information.
Milestones in life, such as school graduations, are times when memories of those who have died and are not there can be triggered. The memory of the students of our school community who have died helps everyone deal with the devastating loss and ensure that this person is not forgotten. ”