Coming Together... the death of a classmate

It is a somber day today in my town... especially at my school.

Yesterday afternoon, a young man who was a sophomore in high school was killed in a dirt bike accident. News of his death began to spread late yesterday afternoon, and by this morning, when the students arrived at school, everyone was aware of the tragedy that had happened.

This morning, as I met during 1st period with my high school choir, there was no singing. We talked. We talked about life and how it can be so fleeting and fragile. We talked about how everything we say to each other matters, because, nice or not, you never know when the thing you say to someone may be the LAST thing you say to them. We talked about how it's a shame that in a high school this small, so many of us don't really know each other. And we talked about how in our class... our little group of singers... we WOULD know each other.

I watched then as my students, of their own volition, moved their chairs into a big circle and introduced themselves. They talked about what classes they were in, what things they liked, what things they disliked, what things they were afraid of, etc. etc. And there was laughter. There were smiles. There were tears. There was COMMUNITY.

I was prouder of them in that moment than I have ever been.

The sense of togetherness they achieved was something beautiful to watch, and in the coming days and weeks, as the initial shock of losing a classmate begins to fade, I will fight hard to help them maintain that togetherness. Finding a place, amid all the chaos and insanity of high school, where you can belong and feel accepted is so important. I want my class to be that place for my students.

And above all, I want them to realize that each one of them is wonderful and VALUABLE, exactly the way they are.

I pray that the classmate who passed away knew that as well.


  1. You're an amazing teacher. Wow. I'm sure you will foster than togetherness in your space through the years - not just for this class. It's wonderful to see something good can come out of a tragedy. To be able to turn out a positive for those left behind. I don't know you like we've never met but I'm proud to know you in this world.

  2. Thanks Jennifer. Sometimes I don't feel like a very good teacher. But I always want to be a good example. I have such compassion for these kids as they fight and claw their way through adolescence. It's such a difficult, confusing time. A tragedy like this makes it harder, but it can also provide them with some much-needed perspective, along with the opportunity to really take stock of what's important in life.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog so faithfully! I always enjoy your comments!

  3. I think you are a great example. I can tell the compassion through your Blog and I think it's humbling that you sometimes don't feel like a good teacher. It keeps you on your toes. You don't become complacent - I think it's that quality that allows you to grow and be there for your students when something like this hits them hard.

    I love your Blog. It's uplifting and makes me think and take stock and I'm reminded how special life is.

    I adore your quotes - I LOVE quotes. One of these days, I'm going to add a huge quote section to my website. I collected quotes before websites existed. I thoroughly enjoy the quotes you post and your reaction to them.