Southold High School coping with student’s disappearance

BETH YOUNG FILE PHOTO | Southold Superintendent David Gamberg.

As the search for missing Peconic teen Ashley Murray continues, the Southold School District is providing additional support to help students cope with the disappearance of the 16-year-old sophomore.

Superintendent David Gamberg said Tuesday that everyone in the district is concerned about Ashley’s well-being and said he believes students are holding up fairly well since she went missing Feb. 25.

“I think it is extremely important to point out that ongoing and sustained work is essential to address healthy interactions among students,” he said. “It is only when we provide periodic programs, along with daily support and engagement, that students have resources to promote appropriate responses to such situations.”

Mr. Gamberg said the district has hosted presentations about substance abuse and cyberbullying and is also setting up a new assembly with neuroscientist Stephen Dewey to discuss peer pressure and bullying. The district is also hosting Compassion Without Borders, a program that promotes charitable causes; Youth Making a Difference, a leadership-training program; and a senior class trip to visit the Suffolk County jail in Riverside.

The district also hosts Friendship Matters groups, which aim to help children develop social skills, build friendships and address female relational aggression, he said.

In the classroom, Mr. Gamberg said teachers are educating students about bullying and peer relationships. Students also learn about cultural sensitivity and sexual abuse prevention through college prep sessions, he said.

In addition to providing students with peer mediation and counseling, the superintendent said he’s also been in constant contact with the Southold Town Police Department since Ashley was reported missing and district officials are encouraging students to come forward if they have any information about her disappearance.

“Anything we can do to provide the police with any clues or hints [will be helpful to the investigation],” Mr. Gamberg said. “You never know what will lead to something.”

Although the superintendent said he hasn’t noticed a large number of students seeking support, he said all staff, teachers and administrators are available to help students cope during this “troubling” and “sad” situation.

“We are continuing to be very watchful and mindful of our students,” he said. “[We’re] walking around, greeting students and making sure that we’re paying close attention to them.”

Anyone with information should contact Southold police at (631) 765-2600. Information will remain confidential.

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