Many in this town of 6,000 are asking difficult questions.

How do hundreds of kids return to Winthrop Middle and High School 25 days after they lost Kelsey Stoneton, one of the town’s most beloved and spirited students?

How does Kelsey’s father Joel begin his new job as athletic director and dean of students in a community where Kelsey lit up the halls and classrooms with her ever-present smile? How does Haley Stoneton begin as a freshman in the school where her older sister touched so many lives?

“There is no playbook for this,” said Joel Stoneton, the high school’s former longtime football coach. “My big fear is walking into the school where I was supposed to see my kid every day. But my plan is to move forward and to support the kids and myself as best I can.”

Winthrop schools reopen on Wednesday, a little more than three weeks after Kelsey Stoneton died suddenly of a blood clot on Aug. 2. The school district plans to have extra counselors available for kids who need to talk about the loss of the 17-year-old girl who excelled on the sports fields and in the classroom.

“It’s obvious there will be emotions within the first week,” said Keith Morin, Winthrop High School principal. “We’ll have extra resources ready, and if we need more counselors, we can have them in place quickly.”

Two message boards will be set up in the school guidance office, where students can write notes about Kelsey and their feelings.

In the top 10 in her class and the captain of her field hockey team, Kelsey was well-known in town, where her parents, Kim and Joel Stoneton, grew up. Within 10 days of Kelsey’s death, more than $54,000 was raised by local restaurants, ice cream stands, pizza parlors and an online fundraising account.

“The support has been incredible, from teenagers giving up their ice cream tips to families making dozens of bake sale goods,” said Kim Stoneton, who owns Bloom, a downtown Winthrop hair salon.

And few doubt that support will dwindle any time soon in this closely knit town.

“Kelsey touched so many people, it’s going to be a tough start back at school,” said Zach Phinney, a high school senior. “But I know the type of community Winthrop is. We’re just going to have to rally. Everyone will be there for each other.”

At the middle school where Kelsey’s younger sister Haley recently graduated from 8th grade, teachers and counselors will be on alert for students who may need assistance.

“We don’t know what we’ll be dealing with,” said Karen Criss, Winthrop Middle School principal. “And issues might not come right off. We’re going to have to watch kids for red flags, unusual behaviors.”

And Criss understands that students are not the only ones affected by Stoneton’s sudden death.

“I’ve had teachers who taught Kelsey call me in tears and say, ‘What are we going to do?'” Criss said. “But we will all walk through this together. And at some point, we all are going to break down. In the appropriate time and place, we all have to grieve.”

Drew Stratton knows that grief comes in waves and sometimes the feelings can be overwhelming. Stratton, a recent Winthrop High graduate, dated Kelsey Stoneton for nearly a year and was with her in the hospital when she died. He hopes that the students will seek help when they need it.

“Kelsey wouldn’t want people to be afraid to ask for help,” Stratton said.

In the coming weeks and months, Haley Stoneton realizes there will be good days and bad as she walks the hallways where her sister’s laughter once echoed. But like her mother, who created a #justsmile Twitter hashtag to honor Kelsey’s optimism, Haley Stoneton refuses to dwell on the sadness.

“Everywhere I go in Winthrop, Kelsey is always going to be there,” said Stoneton, who is 14. “She shined on everybody, and I just try to keep remembering all the good times.”

A few days before the start of school, Joel Stoneton remained unsure of how to work on athletic fields filled with memories of a child who was taken too soon. Still, he understands that his family is not alone in trying to cope with Kelsey’s loss.

“A lot of Kelsey’s friends are in pain, and when I see them having a rough time, I’m just going to hug them and say, ‘I’m having a bad day, too,'” Stoneton said. “We’re all just going to get through this the best way we can.”

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