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Colorado City students, teachers back in class after Hailey Dunn's remains identified

By Ariana Garza, Weekend Anchor/Crime & Courts Reporter, agarza@ktxs.com
Published On: Apr 29 2013 06:27:03 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 29 2013 08:47:20 PM CDT
COLORADO CITY, Texas -

Monday was the first school day since human remains discovered in Scurry County last week were identified as those of missing Colorado City teenager Hailey Dunn.

Schools are providing counseling for students.

Hailey’s remains were found near Lake JB Thomas March 16. Authorities positively identified them Friday afternoon. Hailey was reported missing in December 2010. If Hailey were still alive, she would be a sophomore in high school.

Andra Maxwell, Hailey’s eighth-grade social studies teacher for only four months before she disappeared, said her disappearance was "a shock" and "heartbreaking."

“We kept thinking and hoping that it would end soon and she'd show back up, you know, and as time went on it just ... it seemed that this might be inevitable,” Maxwell said.

Maxwell has kept a photograph of Hailey on her classroom whiteboard ever since Hailey’s disappearance. Hailey penciled in a message to Maxwell on the piece of tape that holds the photo in place. 

“It makes me remember her exactly the way I want to, you know, ‘I love you Maxy poo,'” Maxwell said. “I heard that every day for a very short time -- way too short a time -- but it helps me to remember her the way I want to rather than think about all the what if's and everything that took place after that.”

Administrators said counseling is available to all middle and high school students, whether they knew Hailey or not.

“Even though they might not have known Hailey, they live in this community and we're a small community so the impact of what has happened over the last few years has had an impact on everyone,” Colorado Middle School Principal Mark Merrell said.

“She was not a girly girl, but she definitely had so many fun things about her,” Counselor Emily Strain said. “She enjoyed people, she enjoyed teachers, she enjoyed school and she was never down. She was always a fun person to be around.”

Strain has been a counselor at the middle school since Hailey disappeared.

“No matter who it is, it's still a child and I think I've heard that said before too -- and no matter what -- we're in education for a reason because we care about children and you never want to see a child hurt and that's what's so sad about it.” Strain said.

In 2010, Strain said students and teachers were able to find comfort in trying to find Hailey; however, now that her body has been found, everyone needs closure.

“I'm very thankful that she is healthy and whole in heaven and now I just hope that complete justice is served for her,” Maxwell said.

Though it is not yet clear how Hailey died, the school district has implemented a self-defense program for eighth grade and senior girls.