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Mental health a top priority for Orange County Schools after student killed in Pine Hills home

T'Yonna Mayor was a gift gymnast and straight A student.
Brittony Happ
T'Yonna Major was a gifted gymnast and straight A student.

Orange County Public Schools are providing grief counselors for students having a hard time dealing with the death of nine-year-old T’yonna Major. She was one of the victims in a shooting last week in Orlando’s Pine Hills neighborhood.

T’Yonna Major was shot and killed in her home in Pine Hills last Wednesday. Her mother was also shot but survived.

Major is being remembered as a gifted gymnast and a straight A student who was a light to everyone who knew her.

Pine Hills Elementary School Principal LaTonya Smothers said Orange County Public Schools are providing grief counselors for as long as needed, to help staff and students process this loss.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family as they go through this extremely difficult time," said Smothers. "We will have grief counselors on campus for any student or staff member who needs to speak with someone about this loss.” 

Smothers said she's encouraging parents to talk to their kids about Major's death.

“A wide range of emotions can be felt during this grief process," said Smothers. "And we encourage you to openly discuss your child’s reaction to this news.” 

These grief counselors are in addition to the school’s normal counseling staff, which students can still continue to reach out to as needed.

In a statement after the shooting that killed three people, including Spectrum News journalist Dylan Lyons, Superintendent Maria Vazquez said, "Words cannot express the disbelief & anger I feel about the senseless violence that led to 3 deaths, including one of our precious students."

If you or someone you know is dealing with feelings of hopelessness after the shootings, you can call or text 988, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Danielle Prieur is WMFE's education reporter.
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