Jackson Standefer’s schoolmates and teachers continue to hope as the search for the McCallie School eighth-grader and his stepgrandmother stretches on in Grand Canyon National Park.
“Ever since this news hit the school on Monday, we have been in a hopeful and united and supportive mood here at the middle school,” said Jim Suddath, middle school chaplain.
He said Jackson has been at McCallie since sixth grade and is “very well known and very well liked.”
The school faculty and counselors have done “an excellent job” in helping the students cope with fear and uncertainty, he added.
“As a school, we’ve put a lot of time and effort into taking the right approach as we and the rest of the Chattanooga community sit and wait,” Suddath said.
“We know that a lot of effort is being put forth by many different agencies for him and his stepgrandmother. The school has been keeping up with the reports that have come out, and we have prayed, a lot.”
Standefer, 14, and 62-year-old LouAnn Merrell have been missing since Saturday, when they were swept away in a creek after losing their footing in a remote part of the national park.
In a statement released Tuesday night, the families of Standefer and Merrell said: “We would like to thank everyone from around the world who have offered encouragement, support and prayers during this difficult time as we continue to search for Jackson Standefer and LouAnn Merrell. The search for Jackson and LouAnn continues, and the overwhelming support has helped us remain positive throughout this process.
“Thank you as always for respecting the family’s need for privacy as we work through this difficult time. Your continued love, prayer and support are greatly appreciated.”
The boy’s uncle, Mark McOmie, said the Merrell Boot Co. has donated search resources, including a military-grade drone, climbers and rescuers.
LouAnn Merrell is the wife of company co-founder Randy Merrell.