William T. Dwyer High School Student Dies in Off-Campus Occurrence

Dwyer’s Principal Corey Brooks Shares His Perspective in the Aftermath of Tragedy


William T. Dwyer

William T. Dwyer was built in 1990, and is located in Palm Beach Gardens.

Melissa Eugene, Club Member

Recently, at  neighboring Palm Beach County High School, William T. Dwyer, a beloved student tragically passed away due to an off-campus occurrence that happened.

The student, known as Tiger Campbell Rollins, is the son of the school’s track coach and Girls’ basketball team.

Rollins had been reported missing by his family on Sunday, February 6th at around 11:30 pm, and he was last seen by his friends near Alternate A1A and the Donald Ross area. 

His body was unfortunately found in an unspecified body of water.

Rollins was known at the school for being a football player and a track and field runner.  He was loved by many others, and his presence will definitely be remembered and missed.

Having the opportunity to talk to the principal at William T. Dwyer, Corey Brooks, I asked him a few questions regarding this tragic incident and what process it took, along with what toll this has taken on him, and the school.

What is the protocol when something like this occurs?

“There’s really no procedure. I create a procedure for myself because you know, when you’re the principal of a high school, it’s like managing a small city. So I start with myself, and then I say ‘OK who do I report to?’ So with that being said, I notify the district office, I notify the regional office – those are my bosses, and then I work my way down. I notify my administrators, I notify my school counselors, I notify my teachers, I notify the parents, and then I notify the kids. So that’s the little system that I created…”

As a principal, do students come to you for moral support and emotional assistance when you let them know the news of something like this?

“Absolutely, they come.  A lot of times, they’re really upset. They’re crying and if I feel like I have a relationship with that student and I know that student well enough to give them words of comfort, I will. And if it’s a situation that I feel like I’m not equipped to handle, I will refer them immediately to one of our grief counselors or to the school counselor or we have a robust school-based team on campus with mental health specialists, so I will refer them to one of those.”

As you said before, you have coping strategies when something like this happens, but specifically, the recent event (Tiger Rollins and Ryan Rogers), what effect did that have on you personally?

“It was tough because… I don’t want to get upset when I think about it. It hurts on a lot of layers because as the principal of the school, you always have to be the beacon of strength. You always have to be the strong one and what a lot of people don’t understand is I’m human too. I’m not emotionless. I’m not all business; I have feelings too and with Ryan, it really hurt because where I position myself for lunch, he may have sat maybe ten feet away from me every day with his group of friends. So I literally had to move my duty post because every time I went to my duty post, I would glance over to his seating area and that would bring back horrible memories and feelings. I would begin to get sad.”

“With Tiger just passed, his father works here and coaches 3 sports and Tiger was a really popular kid who played a lot of sports and was visible around campus. So I haven’t really developed a mode of operation yet to cope with his passing because it was fresh. We just had the funeral service for him on Saturday (Feb 18) at the school, but I’m going to pray. I am a believer. I’m going to put my best foot forward… I try my best to ask a lot of questions and ask the kids how they’re feeling because it’s so funny how you can improve your situation by helping others.” 

Do students, teachers, and/or staff members have the opportunity to take some time off in order to recover?

“Unfortunately, no. As a high school student, you’re very much aware of if you miss a certain amount of days, you have to take those final exams and pass them, but I hope the district revisits that policy and looks at it because kids do have to grieve, too. There are some bereavement policies in place for teachers, but unfortunately, there are none in place for students. Like I said, as principal, I try to accommodate them by having mental health specialists and counselors available in a central location.”