Yesterday in the school auditorium at Life Academy, school employees and grief counselors stood in a circle and quietly discussed their plan for the memorial assembly in 18-year-old Alejandro Aguilera‘s honor. Some of them had puffy eyes. Most looked exhausted.
Apart from the sorrow and the heaviness in the room that day, something else hit me: Everyone seemed to know what to do. One teacher noted that her students erected altars for the dead with a disturbing degree of expertise.
The small school — and the broader community — has experienced far too much loss. This is the second such assembly I’ve attended at Life since the school year began.
This evening, as I began clearing the stacks of notebooks and old newspaper clips off my desk in preparation for our move back to downtown, I found a spreadsheet I had printed out more than two years ago. It’s not titled, but it has 13 students’ names on it — followed by a date, a school, and their ages, 13 to 19.