For the second time this school year, our high school suffered a death in the student body. Dealing with death in high school is unfortunate, but not new. What is different I suppose is the way generations handle the loss both in person and on social media.
During the last week of the summer a boy in 16.5’s junior class killed himself. We live in a small school district and the kids were clearly upset. (I tend to think some of the energy spent on grieving was reflective of others in the grade.) Instagram accounts were full of tributes to the boy. On the community pages on Facebook there was sometimes (in my opinion) over wrought hand wringing asking how could this happen here? How could the signs be missed?
A couple of weeks ago, as winter break was ending tragedy struck 14.5’s freshman class when a boy was rundown (accidentally) crossing a major roadway near our house. There’s probably more to the story – but you can see the reaction of the kids in all of the grades at the high school the loss was felt.
When I took 14.5 and some of her friends to the corner 24 hours after the accident to leave flowers and remember their friend – each took out their phone and commemorated the moment on Snapchat. Back on the community pages of Facebook was the same hand wringing asking how could this happen here? In this case, there was also a link to an accident a couple of years ago that claimed another life.
Perhaps – one day – the intersection will be made safer. Perhaps one day the lessons of the immediate past will be learned and used.
For now though dealing with death in high school is a generational process – and it plays out across social media. I can think back to my high school days, I can remember four of my classmates passing during my years at Carey High School on Long Island. One was murdered, one (maybe two) died from cancer and one was in a car accident.
Dealing with death in high school in the 80’s though was (in my opinion) a much more solemn moment – not commemorated with pictures and posts – but with shared memories and a few hugs.