News of the shootings in Ottawa on Wednesday spread like wildfire across social media and among those watching every development were students in school and now school boards are helping them deal with the frightening news.

Leading one discussion about the events in Ottawa was  Barrie North Collegiate teacher Dan Penrose. He feels it is an important role he needs to play as a teacher. His students seem to be connecting with what happened in a different way than adults would.

“The guy who died was only 24 years old and most of these kids are only five or six years away from that. Really I find his connection to this story, much more on the kids’ minds, than the political ramification than you and I think of as adults.”

Many students are experiencing, for the first time, a national tragedy close to home but they’re managing to put it in to perspective.

“I think that when things like this happen it really only brings a country closer together,” says Barrie North student Maya.

For a generation raised on the internet, many have taken to social media to stay informed.

“For a lot of people, that’s how they connect with other people and that’s how they learn about things,” says Claire Story. “It’s trending on Twitter, I think it’s a good thing, it makes people aware who wouldn’t otherwise be aware.”

Some students believe discussion, whether it’s on social media, at school or at home, is critical.

“So I think it’s important that people discuss it and talk about it,” says Scott Romanek.

To help talk to teens about what happened, the Simcoe District School Board (SCDSB) sent a letter home with elementary students yesterday, to encourage thoughtful dialogue.

Danielle Mink helped put the letter together and says it’s important parents acknowledge what has happened.

“Make sure they’re not giving too much unnecessary information or details about the incidents, but they are giving them accurate information and really at that point trying to reassure them they are safe, we live in a safe country and their schools are safe, their families are safe.”

Along with the SCDSB, the Upper Grand District School Board also sent letters home with their students while the York Region District School Board posted a notice on its website.