Alta. school division's goal to help students 'feel safe' on campus after fatal stabbing
EDMONTON -- Leduc students were back in classrooms on Wednesday at the school where, just two days earlier, their peer Jenny Winkler was stabbed and killed.
STAR Catholic School Division's superintendent said the Christ the King School community was still in shock and various stages of grief, but bringing the student body back ensured they had access to trauma supports.
"We've taken the approach that academics is not the focus, but to support students emotionally and mentally," Charlie Bouchard told CTV News Edmonton Wednesday morning.
Victim support services was brought in Monday and has remained at the senior high school in Leduc, Alta., since. According to Bouchard, nearly three dozen people -- from the division's psychologist and counselors, to family liaison workers, Leduc Victim Services, and the parish priest -- will remain accessible for the rest of the week and beyond if needed.
Then, the division will begin the tough work of reviewing the incident in which 17-year-old Winkler was stabbed in a classroom in front of peers and teachers.
"Once we've kind of exhausted those supports and made sure people are safe emotionally and that they feel safe at school, then we'll turn our attentions on the event and lessons learned, what could have been done different, or if anything at all," Bouchard said.
ACCUSED TO APPEAR IN COURT THURSDAY
A 19-year-old man was arrested Monday less than three hours after the attack. Dylan Pountney is charged with first-degree murder in Winkler's death.
Officials say he is a student at Christ the King and knew the dead girl.
Pountney is in police custody and scheduled to appear again in court on Thursday.
Court records show he was charged in January 2020 with mischief and assault with a weapon, which were withdrawn several months later.
Like many others in Alberta, STAR Catholic schools use the Violence Threat Risk Assessment (VTRA) violence prevention model in identifying students at risk.
However, Bouchard told CTV News Edmonton the young man charged in Winkler's homicide had not been on the division's radar: "We did not have any of those warning signs in this situation."
But a friend of Pountney told CTV News Edmonton he had worried about the 19-year-old in the days before the attack and had concerns the young man was using drugs.
"There was that bit of a drift towards the end and I sort of started getting a bad vibe from him," said Roux Royer. "He was starting to become quite an unhealthy person to be around and I couldn’t make my life about that, so him and I did drift at the end."
Royer, also a student at Christ the King, said Pountney had been at school every day, and could often be seen in the cafeteria on his laptop.
"I didn't really think anything else of it, I knew he was struggling but I didn't know how severely he was."
According to Royer, Pountney's and Winkler's families had known each others for several years, but Pountney didn't talk much about Winkler or their relationship.
Part of the school division's work will be to review risk assessment processes and how they were implemented, and consult with other school divisions who have experienced a similar tragedy.
But, Bouchard's initial reaction is not to increase the amount of time a school resource officer is on campus. There is one school resource officer who rotates between all public and Catholic schools in Leduc. They were not at Christ the King at the time of the attack on Monday.
"The purpose of a resource officer is not to be a security person," Bouchard said. "So if people are thinking that we increase the SROs in schools, we have more security -- that's not the purpose."
TEEN VICTIM REMEMBERED BY FAMILY, FRIENDS
Winkler's father said the teen was loved by many and very artistic. According to Dale Winkler, Jenny had been learning from home due to COVID-19 and went back to school for one class.
"I don't understand what happened. I don't understand why it happened to her."
"I was hoping to see her face smiling when I got into the school," said Erika Williams, one of Jenny's best friends.
Williams and Journie White were in the school when the attack happened Monday, but did not witness it. They say they were in a bathroom when the lockdown happened, and other friends texted them the news about Jenny.
"She [Williams] wanted to leave, and I said, 'No, we've got to stay here, we could be in danger, you don't know if he's still in the school,'" said White.
On Wednesday, the Winkler family let the girls into Jenny's room to take a keepsake. The girls chose necklaces.
"There was no sign this was going to happen," said Williams. "She was just such a great person, and I'll always love her."
Students can reach out to the Kids Help Phone any time by texting CONNECT to 686868. The Mental Health Helpline is also available to anyone 24/7 at 1-877-303-2642.
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Dan Grummett and Diego Romero