Counselors see student anxiety rise approaching tornado anniversary

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Warren County Public School counselors say their students impacted by the tornadoes have come a long way in one year.

However, over the last three or four weeks leading up to the one year anniversary of the deadly December 2021 tornadoes some kids have shown increased anxiety and behavioral issues, while others have dropped in attendance.

WCPS Director of Student Services Todd Hazel said, “Recovery is a long term thing. It’s not just a one day, two days, or a few months… and they’re having struggles in school…. They really don’t know that it may be because of the year anniversary.”

County school counselors will offer their services at Jennings Creek, Moss Middle and Warren Central all next week, ready on standby for people who may need a listening ear.

“We have students who have lost everything they had, or they may have lost a loved one,” said Hazel. “So, now because of the trauma, anytime the wind gets up, anytime it rains, they may think immediately that another tornado is coming…. We want to be there to help them any way that we can. And we can do that by just being available.”

WCPS mental health counselors are also teaming up with teachers to answer their questions on how best to comfort their kids exhibiting PTSD. 

While counselors are helping out with emotional needs, Moss Middle School says the community has gone above and beyond to supply backpacks, school supplies, Christmas presents, and any other physical supplies their kids have needed.

Henry Moss Middle School Youth Service Coordinator Lynn Vincent said, “I’ll get a phone call from people to say, ‘What do you need? Do you need school supplies? Do you need backpacks?’ … I think now the needs here are the same as any other school. We have needs for backpacks and school supplies, but the rebuilding process has started. You can look behind our school and just see the difference.”

Hazel encourages parents and students struggling with mental health to reach out through their Helping Hearts link on social media and directly connect with one of their mental health services.