Gulf Coast High provides counselors to those mourning fellow student’s death

Funeral services will be held at 6 tonight (Tuesday) at the First Baptist Church of Naples, 3000 Orange Blossom Drive, for Gulf Coast High School senior Jake Couture, 17, who was shot and killed Friday night. There will be a viewing from 4 to 6 p.m. at the church, with the funeral immediately following.

— Gulf Coast High School students reeling from the death of a classmate will have support when they return to school Tuesday.

Collier County School District officials report that the school’s six guidance counselors, the school’s psychologist and a school psychologist from the district’s student services office will be on hand to speak with students who need to talk.

Principal David Stump informed staff of the plan as teachers came back to school Monday following a two-week winter break. Stump said it will be a regular school day for students, even as the school community prepares to bury one of its own after school Tuesday evening.

Funeral services will be held at 6 tonight at the First Baptist Church of Naples, 3000 Orange Blossom Drive, for Gulf Coast High School senior Jake Couture, 17, who was shot and killed Friday night. There will be a viewing from 4 to 6 p.m. at the church, with the funeral immediately following.

Couture, 21-year-old Brandon Standifer, 15-year-old Gulf Coast High School student Michael Fleitas and another witness, whose name was not released, got into an argument with three men at an apartment complex in North Naples.

During the argument, one of the men pulled out a gun and started shooting. Couture was killed and Fleitas and Standifer were injured.

Witnesses told deputies the suspects left in a white pickup truck, with gold trim and tinted windows.

Family, friends and those who have been touched by Couture’s life are already finding one another on Facebook. More than 1,800 people have joined a group dedicated to Couture’s memory.

Julie Cosgrove, a school psychologist who will be speaking with students tomorrow at Gulf Coast High School, said it is important that parents speak openly and honestly with students.

“Honesty is important. Don’t speculate,” Cosgrove said. “If you don’t know the answer, say so. Sometimes not knowing can be reassuring to kids,” she said.

Cosgrove said parents should know that a child’s reaction, whether it be sadness, anger or frustration, is a normal response.

“You might have one child who is crying and another who is frustrated. You might have kids who have trouble eating or sleeping or concentrating on homework,” she said. “Any of those symptoms for a day or two is not a warning sign. But they should become better over time.”

Cosgrove also said parents should limit access students have to one another through things such as text messaging and the social networking site Facebook.

“If you don’t limit it, it can allow the kids to dwell on it,” she said. “By digging up and rehashing every detail, it is not a way to get better.”

If students want to go home after speaking with someone, the students’ parents will be contacted and the decision to release the student will be made by the student, parent and the counselor, according to District Spokesman Joe Landon. About 22 Gulf Coast students went home last year after a student passed away, Landon said.

CLICK HERE TO SEE A SPECIAL SECTION ABOUT THE JAKE COUTURE SHOOTING »

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