BARRINGTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Hundreds gathered at Sowams Elementary School in Barrington on Wednesday night to honor two teachers who died suddenly this year.
The teachers both taught at the school, which teaches kindergarten through third grade, for more than two decades.
“No matter how dark it might seem, it will never overcome the light of this community,” said Rev. Patrick Greene of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Barrington.
Students, parents, faculty and staff filled the front lawn of the elementary school, holding candles and listening to messages of support from Greene, the school’s principal and members of the parent-teacher organization.
“Our school has suffered two major losses within the past three months. To say the least, this has been heartbreaking and devastating,” Principal James Callahan said. “Our Sowams community and our Barrington community have come together in pain, but are leaving tonight feeling joyous and supported.”
Callahan said the school has received an outpouring of support from members of the community and other schools in town. He was shocked to see how many people attended the vigil.
“It’s a great show of support,” Callahan said. “Looking out into the crowd I saw a lot of present families but also a lot of families that had students here years ago, (and) teachers within our district were here tonight to show their support for one another.”
One teacher passed away in July, while the other died in early October. The school closed for two days last week following the latest death.
Upon return to school Tuesday, students were met with four therapy dogs from the Bristol, Cranston and East Providence police departments and Brown University.
This week, counselors will remain on hand at the school for students and staff.
“The important piece is that we’re all in this together and we’re gonna be stronger,” Callahan added.