Heartfelt words of King's parents

By Alanah Eriksen, Alanah May Eriksen

William Thode. Photo / Supplied
William Thode. Photo / Supplied

The parents of a King's College student who died in his sleep in February have left a heartfelt message to the mother of another boy who died this week.

Funeral preparations are under way for 15-year-old Michael Treffers, whose life-support system was turned off on Monday after an incident on Auckland's Market Rd motorway overbridge on Sunday.

William Thode, 15, who was in the same house group as Michael, died in February of a rare viral infection while in bed at the school's dormitory.

His parents Kate and Richard Thode left a message to Michael's mother Donna on a tribute page set up on Facebook.

"Words can't express our family's deep sadness at this tragedy. We are so very sorry and unfortunately know exactly what you will be feeling and going through right now. Your heart will physically ache for months. Time will help to heal the pain.

"You will be comforted by all the wonderful fun stories and photos for years to come. His friends will keep him alive. If we can help by sharing and talking through your pain some time, we are here for you."

Three King's College students have died in as many months.

The third was James Webster, 16, who died after binge drinking earlier this month.

The Thodes also wrote to the parents of James saying they "truly believed" the boys would "find each other in heaven - their fun days and years not yet over".

A Ministry of Education trauma team is working with the principal and staff to ensure students get the counselling they need.

Auckland's Anglican Bishop says its church community is doing its best to support King's. The Right Rev Ross Bay said he was in close contact with the school.

"A strong sense of community exists amongst the students and staff at King's. That is so vital at a time such as this when young students and families throughout the community are grappling with the inevitable questions and issues which these tragic deaths raise," he said.

"I wish to pay tribute to the headmaster, chaplains and staff for the care that is being offered to students and their families. They are talking honestly with one another and allowing space for students to grieve openly."

Other schools have rallied around King's College offering support.

Murray Burton, principal of Elim Christian College, which lost six students and a teacher in April 2008 when they were swept to their deaths while canyoning, said their own counsellor was working with students at King's. He had also been at the school after James Webster died.

"It's far better to send the people with the skills ... The guidance counsellors are wonderful in supporting each other, they put out a phone call, we saw it with us two years ago, they descend on us and were with us for as long as it took.

"I think it's just the most wonderful network of counsellors who are trained and who can mix with both teachers and students."

He said the school had provided morning tea for Tangaroa College staff after an 18-year-old student drowned while on a school trip in March.

"Because, during our tragedy, one of the practical things that happened was people provided morning tea for us as a way of saying 'Gosh, we don't know what to do for you guys but we'll put on a nice morning tea for you'.

"It causes staff to come together ... you get strength from one another. Saying 'Look we've found this good book to read' is not quite as good as saying 'Hey, we're in this together, let's sit down and have a bit of food together'."

- NZ Herald

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