Saturday, July 12, 2014

Back Mountain Academy helps others manage grief

Grief counseling sessions offered after deaths of seven young area residents in last year and a half.

June 06. 2013 4:20PM

sessions offered

WHAT: Grief counseling sessions sponsored by the Back Mountain Academy

WHEN: 7 to 8:30 p.m. Mondays starting July 1 and continuing for six weeks

WHERE: Dallas High School

COST: Free of charge

INFO: Call 696-6941 or email

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The death of 18-year-old Thomas Lynch on Feb. 13, 2012, sent shock waves through the Back Mountain.

Lynch, of Harveys Lake, passed away shortly after arrival at the Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center Emergency Room, Plains Township, due to injuries received in a motor vehicle accident in Dallas Township.

Since then, six other young Back Mountain residents have died, four involving automobile accidents and two from cancer, leaving area residents nearly speechless and grasping for ways to cope with the losses.

Candyce Fike, former chairperson of the foreign language department at Dallas High School, wants to help. Thirteen years ago, Fike started what is now known as the Back Mountain Academy and is reaching out to anyone who feels they may need help with their grief.

The academy is sponsoring grief counselor Elisabeth “Els” Heij, of New Milford who has trained internationally, for six sessions at the Dallas High School in an effort to bring the Back Mountain community together in its time of grief.

The sessions, which are being offered free of charge, will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Mondays beginning July 1 and are open to anyone of any age.

“I’ve never gone through grief counseling,” said Fike. “But, this woman is a fabulous person and very concerned about people. I wanted to do something to help even one person move forward. Sometimes, we get stymied in our grief and need help moving on. These sessions will provide help for anyone who can use some guidance.”

Lynch, the son of Liz deLeur Lynch, was scheduled to graduate from Dallas High School in June 2012. A boy Scout, he earned his Eagle Scout badge on his birthday on Dec. 21, 2011.

Lynch had enlisted in the U.S. Army and was scheduled to report to Fort Benning, Ga., on Aug. 8, 2012, with ambitions to be a Cavalry Scout.

Cecilia “CC” Besecker, daughter of Terri and Robert Besecker Jr., of Dallas, was killed in automobile accident in the Allentown area on June 28, 2012. At the time of her death, the Dallas High School graduate was attending Indiana University of Pennsylvania and studying fashion merchandising.

In addition to her parents, CC left behind her twin sister, Courtney; her older brother, Patrick, of Harrisburg; and her younger brother, Andrew.

Eighteen-year-old Corey Ehret, of Dallas, lost his three-year battle with cancer on July 22, 2012. He graduated from Dallas High School on June 15, 2012.

Ehret was employed by the Irem Temple Country Club Golf Pro Shop and had been accepted into the College of Engineering at Penn State, Wilkes-Barre campus.

Surviving, in addition to his parents, are brothers, his twin, Christopher J.; and Brenden C., both at home.

Family and friends came out to the pavilion at the Harveys Lake Beach Club at Sandy Bottom Beach on a beautiful Sunday afternoon last summer to celebrate the life of Kelci Gibbons, who was killed in a car crash on July 24, 2012.

Well-wishers wore tie-dye and showed peace signs to offer their support and share stories of Gibbons’ life and accomplishments in a moving show of “peace and love” for the 22-year-old Dallas High School graduate.

Gibbons attended Cazenovia College, Cazenovia, N.Y.; Hartwick College, Oneonta, N.Y.; and King’s College, Wilkes-Barre.

She leaves behind her parents, Raymond R. and Kelly McCue Gibbons, of Dallas; an older brother, Brian, of Dallas; and an an identical twin sister, Michelle, of Dallas.

Jason Schilling, of Dallas, was killed in a one-car crash on Kunkle-Alderson Road on Dec. 1, 2012.

The 18-year-old left behind his parents, Jim and Susan, and a brother, Steven.

He was enrolled at Luzerne County Community College, Nanticoke, and was about to begin employment at Jack Frost/Big Boulder Ski Resort in the Terrain Park, Carbon County.

Five-year-old Kevin Miller, of Dallas, lost his life when he was hit by a hit-run driver on Friday, Dec. 21, 2012, when leaving a Christmas party with his family in Wilkes-Barre.

The young boy leaves behind his parents, Dr. Stephen F. Miller and attorney Caroline (Prebola) Miller; his twin brother, Christopher; and older brother, Stephen.

Jacob Philip Specht, 13, of Kingston Township, died unexpectedly Sunday, June 2, 2013, at his home.

He was born in Wilkes-Barre and was an eighth-grade student at the Dallas Middle School. He was active with the concert band, playing the trombone, track and cross-country running.

He is survived by his parents, Philip and Michelle Traver Specht; brothers, Philip Jr. and triplets Joshua, Chase and Noah.

Crys Jennings, administrator of the Back Mountain Academy, said pre-registration for the grief therapy sessions is requested by not required. Anyone interested in registering may do so by email at

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