Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Death Of A Student



This morning as I walked down the hall I saw one of our Guidance counselors emptying out a locker. Now this is not something you see every day. As a rule, teachers, staff, and administrators do not open students lockers without call to do so.

I teased Mr. Caveness, “So did you forget to pay your locker fee and the administrators are having you clean it out?” He leaned in towards me and said in a hushed tone, “One of our students passed away this weekend?” WHAT? Before I could ask who it was he told me that it was Andrea G.

It hit me for a second that I knew her but at the same second I felt that I didn’t know her. I was certain I’d taught her but my mind had begun to shift into that downward slide where all the pistons are not shooting.

Mr. C said she hadn’t been in my class, but I knew she had. She had sat in the front row of my seventh period class during first semester. Andrea was a sweet, hardworking, young lady. She’s one of those kids you could have a whole class filled with and teaching would be a joy every day. She was a girl on a mission and determined to get where she was going. Last year she went with our school to the Girl’s Going Places seminar. She had mentioned that she was going to be the first female in her family to graduate from high school. Earlier this year she was so excited about a college fair because she desperately wanted to go to college.

I went to my classroom and turned on my computer. There was an email from my principal, it said:

It saddens me to report that Andrea G passed away early Sunday morning due to injuries sustained in a car wreck. Andrea, 18, was a senior at our school.

Dr. Cooper phoned me tonight after he received a call from the Rome News Tribune about the car wreck. They desired confirmation that she was one of our students.

We will have an extra counselor on our campus tomorrow from the middle school. Ms. Hufstetler will be in the Guidance office tomorrow morning. My suggestion is not to mention the incident to your class, but obviously if a student(s) desires to see a counselor then by all means send that student to the guidance office. They will gauge where to address the situation from there with the student.

I will let everyone know about arrangements and I will attend to represent our school. Tygar

I immediately googled the story to find out what happened. Here is the story that the news carried.

Andrea died Sunday from injuries sustained in a wreck on Ga. 100 near Black’s Bluff Road that also injured two women from Tennessee, according to police. Her Nissan Sentra crashed head-on into a Ford F-250 pickup.

Floyd County police at the scene Saturday said Williams’ Ford F-250 pickup was traveling south on Ga. 100 around 10:30 p.m. when it collided with Garcia’s late-model Nissan Sentra traveling north on Ga. 100. The impact sent the Nissan spinning into a ditch by the northbound lane.

Police officers said it appeared the Nissan may have crossed over the center line when it hit the Ford.

First responders on the scene attempted to arrange with Erlanger Medical Center in Chattanooga for a possible life-flight helicopter, but the hospital canceled that option after determining stormy weather between Chattanooga and Rome would make the flight too dangerous.

This is the fifth student I’ve lost due to death. She is the second student I’ve lost due to a car wreck. Andrea is the first student that the new Rome High has lost in the seventeen years it has been in existence. It NEVER gets any easier. The feeling of HELPLESSNESS never goes away when you know that your students are dealing with the loss of a friend.

I woke up this morning to put in the links for the blog contests I entered and wondered, what I would be writing about today. Would I write about the fight Darryl and I had yesterday because what was said hurt so much? Would I write about the injustice of so many people losing their jobs? At the Sweep Club Denise talked about how her husband would be losing his job at the bank soon. I guess we are almost complacent when we hear of low income workers who lose their jobs. Usually they are not very educated and lack skills. When I was doing those kind of jobs, a job at McDonalds was the same as a job at any other fast food place with the exception of an ugly uniform change.

This is different. There are well educated people, people with strong skill subsets and experience who are forced to get jobs working a Walmart. They are competing for those same jobs with the people who normally hold these jobs. The difference being that these candidates will be told that they are overqualified.

I really thought I’d be writing about this. Instead I’m writing about the loss of a young person taken away from us way to early. I’m talking about trying to comfort a student who asks me through her tears, “Why did she die?” What is the answer? I have no answer? I send her to Guidance with a hug and tell her that we are all saddened by this. This tragedy and its finality put your priorities in order. Unemployment may well be a temporary situation but death is not.

I would ask that anyone reading this post would pray for the family of Andrea and for her classmates who will be walking across the stage in a few short weeks.

Here are the blog contests I entered today:

Prize: 8-day/7-night stay for up to six at the Wyndham Cypress Palms in Orlando, FL on July 5-12, 2009 [no transportation].

Prize: Bouquet of flowers from KaBloom.

Prize: Mother's Day Wishes Medley from Fairytale Brownies.

Prize: $25 Paper Shouts gift certificate and Bride Wars DVD.
Prize: Bride Wars DVD and $25 Paper Shouts gift certificate.

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