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Poland community celebrates 9-year-old Standish victim

9-year-old Hallie Oldham died when a tree fell on the vehicle she was in at Sebago Lake Family Campground last week.

POLAND, MAINE, Maine — On Tuesday, members of the Poland community celebrated the life of Hallie Oldham with both a funeral service and an event at the Poland Community School, where she was an incoming fourth grader. 

Hallie died on Thursday during a thunderstorm in Standish when a tree fell on the truck she was in.

"She was a go-getter, and she really, I'll never forget her," Abby Rhines, a counselor at Poland Community School, said. 

"She could get along with anybody. She got along with the kid that maybe not everyone got along with," Brandi Comeau, Poland Community School principal, said.

As the Poland community remembers Hallie, they are also providing support to students, families, and staff.

"Anytime a family comes through the door, we meet them right where they are," Rhines added.

Danielle Higinbotham and Abby Rhines are school counselors in Poland. They have been in contact with the Center for Grieving Children to help parents best support their kids at this time.

Even though they were off enjoying summer vacation, the pair jumped into action. They now have things set up in a conference room in the school, including books that explain death, coloring, stuffed animals, a memory bracelets station, and a memory jar where students can write down a favorite memory of Hallie and put it in a jar that school staff hopes to give to her family.

School leaders said there is no right or wrong feeling to have right now.

"Our two school counselors are amazing, and they just validate what the child is feeling," Comeau said.

Counselors said if a child isn't talking about their feelings, it's important to notice the signs.

These include no appetite, anger, nervousness, needing more parent time, not sleeping at night, and being really active or really still.

"Some students are really thinking about, what does this mean, what does this look like?" Rhines said.

Grief counselors will be at Poland Community School again on Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., but they said the work won't stop there, and they are expecting to be supporting students and families well into the school year. 

Anyone who wants to support the Oldham family can do so by donating to Hallie's GoFundMe memorial.

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