January 17, 2022
By Tom Tolen / firstname.lastname@example.org
The Brighton Area Schools’ Pack of Dogs will be back in the Oxford Community School District on Tuesday, this time to provide comfort and emotional support to high school students who will be returning to school for the first time since the Nov. 30th incident in which four students were killed and six other students were injured.
15-year-old Ethan Crumbley, the Oxford High School student charged in the shootings, remains in the Oakland County Jail while charged with 24 counts of terrorism and first-degree murder after waiving his right to a preliminary hearing on Friday.
The team of social-emotional learning dogs from Brighton will be going to the Oxford Middle School, rather than the high school, on Tuesday and again Thursday. The reason for the middle school visit is that the high school, which was damaged by the gunfire, is still being repaired. It’s reported that the work should be finished by the end of this week. The trip Tuesday will make the 9th visit to the Oxford Community Schools by the Brighton Pack of Dogs and their handlers since the tragedy.
In the meantime, a GoFundMe fundraiser has been created, with the goal being to provide a therapy dog for every Oxford school. Former Brighton Area Schools assistant superintendent for business and finance Maria Gistinger was a major factor in starting the fund drive. According to Karen Storey, who instituted and continues to lead the Pack of Dogs program, Gistinger has been one of the program’s most ardent supporters. Brighton now has a full pack of 14 social-emotional learning dogs, one of the largest in the nation.
Gistinger reports that as of today, more than $14,000 has been pledged to provide the Oxford Schools with the dogs, who spend a minimum of one year in training for their specialized role. Gistinger retired from the Brighton Area Schools in 2019, and is currently employed as an accounting professor at Walsh College.