Southland High School mourns one of their own - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Southland High School mourns one of their own

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ADAMS, Minn. (KTTC) - It was a somber day for students and faculty at Southland High School as they mourned the loss of one of their own.  On Wednesday, Tess Landherr was driving on Highway 56 when her car spun out near County Road 5 and collided head-on with a school bus carrying elementary school students.  

On Thursday, her Social Studies Teacher remembered how she was the day before, laughing through the hallways of the school.

"She had a great, great bunch of friends," said Ethan Riggin.  "I could just see them in the hallway having a great time, enjoying what they were doing."

Riggin has known Tess for 6 years and said they had built up such a rapport that she often kind-heartedly teased him for wearing a leg boot after a recent injury.

"She knew that she could go ahead and give me a hard time about hopping up and down the steps or to have someone help me carry something because of what was going on," said Riggin.  "Even yesterday afternoon, right after lunch, she came into my room, laughed and then ran off to her next class.  That was Tess."

The 16-year-old's sense of humor was just one of the many qualities she'll be remembered for by peers.

"I've heard a lot of stories about her today," said Superintendent of Southland Public Schools, Steve Sallee.  "She was very well respected, comes from a great family.  I would describe her as a very happy-go-lucky kid that I think enjoyed life to the fullest and was very, very well liked here at Southland Schools." 

According Sallee, the school is trying to keep "structure" for students mourning their classmate, but they wanted to provide a "safe place."  So, they set up art and crafts where students could go to cope in another way.  Social workers, crisis counselors and clergy from neighboring towns as far as Austin, Grand Meadow and Le Roy have offered their services to the school.

"Children will deal with these things in a variety of different ways," said Brad Bergstrom, Austin High School Principal.  "Parents know their children best and if they see something that is out of the ordinary in the coming days it is very important that you contact the school and express to them what's going on." 

Bergstrom spent the day at the school helping out to provide Sallee and other school officials some relief from their normal duties so they could spend more time with students and faculty.  But no matter how hard classmates and teachers try and make sense of their loss, no one could replace her presence in the halls of Southland Middle and High School.  

A poster promoting the school's dance team she was a part of hangs on the wall with her name on it.  The Dance Team Awards Banquet was scheduled for Thursday night, but was quickly canceled.

On Thursday, her classmates posted yellow fliers to promote "Yellow Out for Tess" at the Girls' Basketball Game against Mankato on Friday.  All are encouraged to wear yellow in her memory.

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