LEWISTON — How do you tell students and teachers that someone in their school has died?

Carefully. Softly. With love and support.

The mood at Lewiston Middle School on Thursday morning was somber as students and teachers learned that Jayden Cho-Sargent, 13, an eighth-grader, had been struck by a vehicle and killed at 7:10 a.m. as he was walking to the middle school at 75 Central Ave.

Administrators and faculty from throughout the School Department — Assistant Superintendent Tom Jarvis, retired Principal Linda St. Andre and Lewiston High School Principal Shawn Chabot — were on hand to help.

A table was set up in the lobby staffed by faculty, making it easier for students to have someone to talk to.

“We are all in the school district very shaken by this,” Jarvis said. “We’re very sorry for the family.”

Soon after the collision, Lewiston Middle School Principal Jake Langlais got the call and went to the scene.

“I tried to assist as I could,” he said. “As soon as I got back here, we shared information with parents. We also notified our teachers there was a tragedy. As that unfolded, we shared intimate information with people who should know.”

As Langlais spoke, his eyes were red, his face sad.

He knew Jayden. And at 10 a.m., he wasn’t ready to talk about what Jayden was like.

Later in the day, Langlais released a statement saying, “Jayden was a wonderful boy who established himself as both kind and friendly. He will be missed by his classmates and teachers a great deal.”

Meanwhile, the school is responding to help students, parents and faculty.

“The first thing we try to do is be respectful to the family,” Langlais said. “This is a massive tragedy for them.”

He left a message for Cho-Sargent’s mother, saying if there’s anything the school can do to support them, don’t hesitate to ask.

On Thursday and after, the school will follow protocol on the matter, but protocol doesn’t always provide all of the needed steps, Langlais said.

“We try to do right by getting the message out to parents who might have had a concern for their child,” he said.

An automated message went to parents early Thursday in email, voice and text that a middle school student had been struck by a vehicle and the accident was fatal. The message also stated that the school is pulling together faculty and counselors from the district to support students and staff.

A second automated message followed, letting parents know that the boy’s next of kin had been notified, the school’s way of alleviating parents’ concerns that their son or daughter might have been the victim.

As soon as students arrived at school, an assembly was held in the auditorium. Langlais spoke to students, letting them know a student had been the victim of a fatal accident and that the child’s parents had been notified.

Langlais did not identify who was killed at the assembly, and students did not ask. They remained quiet and respectful throughout the assembly.

“The kids knew there was a buzz in the air, that there was something going on,” he said. They could sense the seriousness of what had happened, he said. 

Students were told extra faculty was available to them, and they were free to use their phones or the school’s phones to call their parents. More information would be shared as it became available, Langlais said.

By 10:30 a.m., the Lewiston Police Department had identified Cho-Sargent, and Langlais composed himself to announce it to the 700 students.

“I have an announcement I’d like to share,” Langlais said. He paused. “The student’s name from this morning’s tragedy has been released by the Police Department. It is a member of the Pink Team. It is Jayden Cho-Sargent. At this time, I would like to ask the school for a moment of silence in honor of Jayden.”

It was quiet, except for the sounds of students and faculty crying.

After 60 seconds, Langlais thanked everyone for taking care of each other and said he would continue to share information.

Some parents came to the school lobby to take their children home.

All after-school activities were canceled Thursday, and a community vigil to honor Jayden Cho-Sargent was scheduled outside the school at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Langlais said there would be additional support for students and staff at the school until 7 p.m. Thursday, and on Friday.

“This (is) not just a today thing,” he said.

Parents and students needing help dealing with the student’s death are asked to call the school at 207-795-4180.

[email protected]

What’s happening: Hundreds gather for vigil for student killed in crosswalk | Lewiston Middle School student killed on Main Street

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