“We are all mourning the loss of our friend James today,” Tracey Neeley, principal of the school, said in a statement.
“James was a happy and joyful soul who loved school. On the days he was in class, he would give hugs to all his teachers as he walked into school.”
“A fun memory I have is the way his face would light up when he won the lucky lunch tray! First-graders can find the joy in just about anything. I will always remember his bright joy,” said Neeley.
Brittany Gosney, 29, of the 500 block of Crawford Street, is charged with murder, abuse of corpse and tampering with evidence for the death of her child, James Robert Hutchinson.
Her boyfriend, James Hamilton, 42, is charged with abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence.
Gosney reported Hutchinson missing about 10:15 a.m. Sunday, but further questioning by detectives led to her arrest and admission the boy was dead.
“We know there are a lot of emotions at this difficult time and we want you to know we are here to help you in any way we can. A grief support team has been working with counselors and other staff members to help students and staff deal with their feelings and emotions,” said Neeley.
“I encourage you to take time to listen to and talk with your child about what has happened. Provide outlets for expression such as drawing, writing, talking and any other engaging activities. Be honest. When they ask difficult questions, it’s okay to say you don’t know the answer. Reassure them of their own health and safety and make sure they know that you are emotionally available to them,” she said.
Middletown Schools Superintendent Marlon Styles Jr. said in the message sent to all families in the 6,300-student school system “my heart breaks writing this letter informing the Middletown school district of the tragic loss of one of our Rosa Parks Elementary students.”
“During this difficult time, I know our Middie Family will lean on one another while our community mourns. Our community always finds strength when we come together and I know we will come together for James,” said Styles.
“As a school community, we want to honor James with a celebration of life tomorrow, March 2, at 6:45 p.m. Barnitz Stadium,” which is across the street from the Rosa Park campus.
“All are welcome to come as we start to heal together as a community,” he said.