LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Two school psychologists with Jefferson County Public Schools are in Benton, Kentucky, to help students and staff cope with the shooting at Marshall County High School that left two dead and 18 others wounded, acting JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio said Thursday.

Joe Bargione and Bethanie Brogli Opell left for Marshall County on Wednesday, and although the high school remains closed for students since Tuesday’s shooting, Pollio said they will provide support for school staff and families still reeling from the violence. They'll remain on site once Marshall County High School resumes classes and likely stay for the first few days, Pollio said.

“Obviously it’s a very challenging situation for the employees there also, and then when the students return to school, we’ll hopefully have some support for students too, so you can imagine how challenging and difficult that must be for the community of Marshall County,” he said.

“Anything else that we can do, we’re here for them,” he added.

The 15-year-old student accused in the shooting has been charged with murder and assault and had a juvenile court hearing Thursday. Prosecutors say they want to charge him as an adult.

Bargione and Opell volunteered for the assignment, and Pollio said six other JCPS counselors are on standby in case more help is needed. Bargione has 28 years’ experience with JCPS and Opell has been with the district for 20 years.

Pollio said the Kentucky Association for Psychology in Schools recommended JCPS as a potential resource based on the district’s strong grief counseling program.

He added that he hopes providing support during a tragedy like Tuesday’s shooting at Marshall County High School can be a learning experience for Bargione, Opell and any other JCPS employee tasked with helping those in Benton grieve.

“I’m sure it’ll be very difficult for them, but I hope it’ll also be inspirational knowing that they can provide support for families there who are struggling so much,” Pollio said.

Reach reporter Kevin Wheatley at 502-585-0838 and kwheatley@wdrb.com. Follow him on Twitter @KevinWheatleyKY.

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