CIS: ‘Our priority is support’By Jessa Chrisna Marie J. Agua
Cebu Daily News
The Philippine flag flew at half mast in Cebu International School (CIS) yesterday as grief counselors made themselves available to students, faculty and families following the accidental drowning of two students on a field trip to Bataan province.
Support for the victims’ families should be the main focus, said school officials.
“Our priority in this tragic event has been James and Kyle’s families as well as the students and staff of our school. This remains our priority – the students families, friends and our staff and parents at CIS,” CIS Superintendent Diedre Fischer said in a message posted in the school’s website.
Grade 8 students Kyle Julian Gullas Weckman and Korean national Jae Hak “James” Jung drowned while swimming in the Kairukan Falls last Wednesday.
Four boys had jumped into the water in barangay Binaritan of Morong, Bataan despite warnings by their local guide, according to initial reports.
Two boys were rescued.
An internal investigation is still ongoing even as representatives of the Department of Education (DepEd) in Central Visayas went to CIS campus yesterday to ask information for its own inquiry.
Kyle was the 13-year-old grandson of newspaper publisher and former Cebu congressman Jose “Dodong” Gullas.
The boy’s mother Jackie Gullas Weckman served as chairperson of the CIS board of trustees in 2010 to 2011.
“We have provided on-site counselors in school who can help all the people in our community throughout this trying times,” CIS spokesperson Paula Ruelan told Cebu Daily News.
The school held a “community meeting” yesterday afternoon with students, faculty, and parents in its sprawling campus in barangay Pit-os, Cebu City.
Plans were announced for a memorial at 7:30 a.m. Monday in the campus for the two boys.
Kyle’s remains are laid at the Crystal Palace of Cosmpolitan Funeral Homes in Cebu City while Jung’s vigil wake is in Makati.
Fischer said a former CIS elementary principal based in Manila is her representative to assist in Jung’s wake.
In a TV interview, South Korean Consul General in Cebu Augusto W. Go said Jung’s family requested privacy.
The CIS website removed its previous bulletins about the student deaths which were first reported as an accident that occured on a field trip to Subic joined by 42 students.
Ruelan, marketing manager of CIS, yesterday clarified in a text message that the field trip was in Morong, Bataan.
( Morong is host of the Subic Bay International Airport and is part of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.)
“We will make the correction on our website,” she said. The two initially posted statements were removed yesterday.
A fact-finding team from the DepEd went to CIS at 9 a.m but left early noon after school officials told them that they have yet to complete their internal investigation.
“We understand them. Unlike in public schools, Dep Ed has no control over private international schools,” said Dr. Danilo Gudelosao, Dep Ed Cebu City division chairman of investigation committee.
CIS is not directly under DepEd as the school independently operates under Republic Act (RA) 9190 enacted on February 21, 2003, explained Ruelan.
Nevertheless, the private school assured DepEd officials that they would furnish the agency a copy of their investigation.