ST. CLAIRSVILLE - The St. Clairsville-Richland City School District was in a state of mourning Wednesday.
The tragic death of eighth-grader Dominick Nardo, 13, as the result of an ATV crash Tuesday afternoon left many students and staff searching for answers and support.
"It was a tough day," said St. Clairsville Superintendent Walt Skaggs. "There were a lot of tears shed and a lot of people needed someone to talk to."
According to Skaggs, Nardo was a "very popular kid."
Nardo had recently completed his season as a football player and was planning on playing basketball this winter.
Skaggs heard about the accident around 4 p.m. Tuesday and had confirmed it was Nardo about an hour later.
Skaggs, Middle School Principal Mike McKeever and School Resource Officer Jeff Gazdik immediately sprung into action.
"We wanted to make sure we had counselors and pastors available to talk to kids," Skaggs said. "We had to make sure things were lined up and prepared for the kids who needed support."
According to Skaggs, school attendance was "good" and he believed many students opted to come to school to spend more time around their friends.
"Being around their friends was probably the best thing for them," Skaggs admitted.
Skaggs held a staff meeting with his high school and middle school faculties prior to school starting on Wednesday.
"I had some staff members call on Tuesday and we met with them in the morning to explain what we knew, what the plan for the day would be. We wanted to make sure the staff was aware of symptoms or signs from kids that they needed to talk."
St. Clairsville head basketball coach Kim Clifford was stunned when he received the news. Nardo spent three years as a manager for the Red Devils' basketball team, including their 2011 season in which they advanced to the Division II State Tournament.
"I never saw Dom without a smile on his face," Clifford said. "He went with us everywhere we went. He was just a good kid. I am just sick over it."
Nardo originally approached Clifford about being a manager because "he wanted to work on his game."
"He was a big part of our program," Clifford said.
Clifford heard from several members of that 2011 team, including Riley Carlton and Dan Monteroso, on Tuesday.
"Dom definitely had an impact on those kids, too," Clifford said. "Those guys wanted to make sure I got flowers and things from them. It just speaks volumes for what those guys thought of Dom."
Clifford said the basketball team will try to honor Nardo in some way during the upcoming season.
Skaggs addressed the students briefly, a moment of silence for Nardo was held and the rest of the school day was held.
Skaggs visited with the Nardo family on Wednesday and expressed his and the entire school district's condolences.
"Obviously, everyone was still very sad and in shock, but I wanted to let (the family) know that we were there for them."
Just a little more than three years ago, St. Clairsville dealt with another tragedy with the passing of Adam Snider, who also died in an ATV accident.
"It's never easy to deal with and it's not something we want to get used to dealing with, but, unfortunately, we have to deal with it," Skaggs said. "St. Clairsville is a very tight-knit community and when tragedy occurs to a family, we all pull together. Everyone in the school and community is very supportive and that will be no different."
The community support is evident through the public outpouring of support on social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter. A "Dollars for Dominick" fundraising page has been established with all of the proceeds going to the family.
Also formed was a "RIP Dominick Nardo" Facebook page to which more than 1,600 people had already subscribed.
A middle school band concert and parent meetings were postponed from Wednesday night.
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