School near Justis Burland's home makes book for twin, Xavier

Underwood, Minn. (Valley News Live) - Many members of the Fergus Falls community are still reeling from the news of six-year-old Justis Burland's death—as more details unfold of his and his brother's sustained torture, while living under the care of Bobbie Bishop and Walter Wynhoff.

Meanwhile one school teacher nearby in Underwood, Minn. says she didn't want to feel helpless about the situation anymore.

Kelly Arneson teaches Health and Physical Education for grades K-12 at Underwood Public School. She says the death of six-year-old Justis Burland really hit home for her.

"The amount of times I drove past that house, a thousand times,” Arneson said, “and it just, you know it goes to show you never know what's going on behind closed doors."

And she's not the only one.

"I did have a student bring in an article of that situation and...you know, I just got to thinking with my students, I'm like, 'Gosh, what could we do to make a difference," she said.

Arneson commissioned her seventh through ninth graders to put together a book of positive words for surviving twin, Xavier.

"We were able to choose whatever picture we wanted and then we could color it and put any type of saying we wanted on it," ninth grader, Krosby Aasness, said.

Many had faith-based messages. Ninth grader, Ruby Dahlen’s, went like this:

"Dear Xavier, you are so incredibly strong. I cannot imagine the feelings you are feeling right now and how you will feel in the future. Always remember you are loved by the community and many others, and me. Ninth grader, Ruby, from Underwood High School."

She says she mentioned how Xavier will feel in the future for a reason.

"I haven't ever been through anything close to that,” Ruby said, “but even the things that happened in my life are gonna affect me in the future, things that happened when I was younger affected me in the future. And thinking about how something this terrible could impact him in the future is crazy to me, 'cuz you don't know how he thinks about it or how he will think about it, or what he's going to remember or what he's not going to remember."

And that's why teacher, Kelly Arneson, says she hopes her class can be a bright spot in Xavier's future.

"My hope is that someone's going to sit down with him, open this book and start reading...and then I told my kids, 'You just never know. Maybe when he's 16 and there's dust accumulated on this book, maybe he'll come across it again and be like, 'Oh this book. And he's gonna sit down and read it again."

Arneson will bring the book to Human Services early next week. She plans to attend Monday night’s vigil planned in remembrance of Justis.