After fatal fire claims classmates, counselors and dogs help Oconto students navigate grief

OCONTO – Alerted to the likelihood that three students had died in a fire on the morning of Jan. 17, Oconto School District educators quickly moved to organize and prepare help for their classmates.

The district’s crisis response team, consisting of administrators, counselors and other staff members, met to draft a communication plan and arranged for counseling for students to be available that day — Friday — and on Saturday.


Four volunteers from the HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response organization — two from Michigan, one from Minnesota and one from Illinois — responded to a request for help from school psychologist Kris Ravet. They brought three Labradors and a Great Dane for youths to pet and cuddle.

“It just gives them a moment to decompress and breathe,” said Karen Alvord, the Michigan coordinator for HOPE, who came from the Upper Peninsula.

(Read full article by Green Bay Press Gazette here)