MARIANNA, FL -- (WTVY) At a small school like Golson Elementary in Marianna, each child is more than a statistic.
They become more like family, sharing the good times and the bad.
Administration, teachers, and fellow students are all reeling from the loss of one of their own, six-year-old Ervin Sims Jr.
"He's part of our family here," Principal Amy Allen said. "We're always going to have a special place for him. He's always going to be part of our memories and part of our school."
Ervin passed away Tuesday night after he was accidentally shot Friday evening.
"I think the biggest thing with children when something like this happens is just for the people they trust to be available to them," Allen said.
A grief counselor spoke to Ervin's classmates Wednesday morning, encouraging them to write letters to their young friend.
One letter read, "I love that you were so funny." Another said, "I hope you feel better in heaven."
"I think one of the best things that was shared with the children was it's okay to laugh and it's okay to cry," Allen said.
His teacher, Vickie Plant, said he was a joy to have in class. In fact, his New Year's resolution was to help out more at school.
Allen called him her "little quiet hugger."
"That's gonna be the hardest thing not to see around here is that little face that was always lit up," Allen said.
Plant tells NewsChannel 7/Local 18 News there's now a big void in her classroom. It's a void only Ervin could fill.
We also reached out to Jackson County Superintendent of Schools Larry Moore, who said "Our thoughts and prayers are with the family. We're deeply saddened by the loss of the child."