Students, staff go back to school 1 day after 14-year-old Josiah Woods was killed

Local News

Grief counselors were at McCombs and Callanan Middle Schools to help students and staff cope with Josiah's death.

DES MOINES — Students and staff returned to McCombs and Callanan Middle Schools with heavy hearts on Thursday.

Josiah Woods, 14, was known for being a fun-loving and talented young man with potential to do great things in his life, according to McCombs Middle School principal Nancy Croy.

He was shot and killed just before 4:00 a.m. on New Year’s Day.

“Des Moines is a small community, it’s big, but a lot of times our teachers and our staff, even our kids have worked at multiple buildings. Our circle’s pretty small. So, I think today not only in two buildings but in most of our middle schools we have students and staff who are struggling to understand, how could this happen to a 14 year old?”, said Jessica Schmitt, a Des Moines Public Schools social worker.

Grief counselors like Schmitt were at McCombs and Callanan Middle Schools on Thursday to help students and staff get through the first day back. Josiah had attended both middle schools.

School officials are encouraging students to follow their normal routines as much as possible to get them through this difficult time.

They said it helps them to have normalcy at a time like this.

Students and parents are also encouraged to take advantage of the Student Assistance Program.

Des Moines Public Schools partnered with Mosaic Family Counseling Center, Inc. to help students and their families deal with difficulties that come with life.

To access help or find more information, call the Mosaic Family Counseling Center at 515-724-8920. Their hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday-Friday.

You can also email them at or visit their website.

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