Whale Branch Middle School students cope with classmate's death - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Whale Branch students cope with classmate's death

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Norman Kirkland Jr. Norman Kirkland Jr.

A wave of emotions were felt at Whale Branch Middle School Monday as students discovered one of their classmates, Norman Kirkland Jr., drowned Sunday.

"It's been everything from laughter about the good times that they had with Norman, all the way to kids being angry and very depressed and saddened," said Matthew Hunt, Whale Branch principal.

According to police, Kirkland drowned while he was swimming in Ashepoo River in Colleton County.

The district brought in extra guidance counselors to help students deal with the shock of Kirkland's death, and teachers allowed students to make cards and posters honoring him.

Hunt said Kirkland never met a stranger, and everyone who knew him, liked him.

"He was a role model student," said Hunt. "He was one of the truly gifted and talented students."

Kirkland loved Clemson University and hunting. His friends say he could fix just about anything with duct tape.

"In his robotics class, when he couldn't get something to stick, he would ask, 'can't I use duct tape? Why can't I use duct tape? If you give me duct tape I can fix that,'" said Hunt. "He was that kind of kid you would want your kids to be friends with. It's sad."

The cards and posters students made in Kirkland's honor will go up on a board in the main hallway at the middle school.

According to Kirkland's mother, a viewing has been scheduled from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Keith Smith Funeral Home in Allendale. Kirkland's funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Great Salkahatchie Baptist Church in Ulmer.

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