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Article updated: 12/14/2011 6:15 AM

Elementary school grapples with Island Lake twin's death in crash

By Paul Biasco

Officials at the Island Lake elementary school where a 10-year-old boy who died in a crash Monday night attended said the staff was shaken by the news, and many classmates had not heard until they arrived Tuesday.

When word spread Monday night that Griffin Shirey of Island Lake was killed in a crash that left his twin brother Nicholas in critical condition, Dist. 118 administrators prepared to inform Griffin's 10- and 11-year-old peers of the tragic event.

Griffin Shirey was a fifth-grader at Cotton Creek School, and was know to be a student who was involved in baseball, basketball and swimming, said Dist. 118 superintendent Daniel Coles.

"He was very well liked by his peers," Coles said. "It's just a terrible loss."

A number of students were informed by their parents of the four-vehicle crash, which occurred in Wauconda early Monday evening, but others did not hear until they arrived at the school Tuesday morning, according to Coles.

"Of course, on the bus ride in, students talk," Coles said. "We addressed the students in their classrooms with respect to what had happened."

Griffin was well-known around the school, and was thinking about starting a band.

"A lot of information was shared with me about Griffin," Coles said Tuesday. "He was a wonderful boy, a very good student, a very active student."

A district crisis team of psychologists, social workers and counselors from throughout the district met at the school early Tuesday before students arrived.

The team worked with students individually and in small groups as well as a number of parents who stopped by the school, and staff members.

"We will take our cues from the kids," Coles said. "We will provide as much and as intensive support as necessary, but at the same time it is important to stay in our routine at school."

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