Simply, and Seriously, Horrible

Today I had a post scheduled about my favorite cookie recipes scheduled to go up, but given the events of the last two days I just didn't feel it was appropriate. I've debated about mentioning anything, since this event really is not about me, and I hate it when people take tragic events and weave themselves into the mix. But these people could desperately use any positive vibes put out into the atmosphere on their behalf, so I'm going for it.

Thursday morning a few buses full of high school seniors drove up from Southern California for a sort of preview weekend at CSU Humboldt (in Northern California, so quite the drive). Early evening a FedEx truck crossed the center divider and hit one of the buses head on, leading to an instant fire. Three of my IB English students were on the trip. Friday morning when I woke up there was an email about an emergency pre-work staff meeting and there was a news van parked outside our office. I didn't put two and two together until colleagues in the parking lot gave me the update. Of the three students on the trip one student wasn't on the bus that crashed, but her twin sister was, as was another girl. The twin sister was unaccounted for and the other girl was in stable condition  (this is an article that probably explains things better than I). I had all three of the kids last year and this current year- while I wasn't extremely close to them I knew them quite well. Nice, sweet, good kids who were on the college track. They were low-income and would be first-generation college students.

As the day went on (a minimum one, thank goodness, since last night was prom... I know) I watched my three classes of IB seniors fall apart. It was one of the most heartbreaking things I've ever seen, but I was also beyond touched with the sympathy and compassion they showed one another. The program is very tight-knit and these kids have grown incredibly close over the years. Our district and site, as always, followed protocol and did a great job providing grief counselors for staff members and students. Our principal canceled our planned meetings and allowed people to go home early.

Throughout the day various bits of misinformation spread like wildfire, both between good-intentioned kids and the media. It was frustrating. But without out any legitimate updates as the day went on many began to fear the worst for the twin that was missing. It was a good lesson on being cautious about believing news updates. The rush "to be first" leads to so much unreliability.

Last night, while chaperoning prom I arrived to see two or three news vans in front of the venue, there to get any snippet they could from our poor kids and staff members. It was despicable. Our administrators did their best to keep them away from the kids, but their presence was infuriating. My students were so conflicted about going anyway, but the counselors and teachers told them that they should, if they were up to it. The media had no business being there. During the dance confirmation was given via staff email that the unaccounted for student was confirmed dead- luckily most of the kids didn't hear.

This is not about me, this is about my poor students who lost a friend, parents who lost a child, and a twin who lost someone she shared a bond with that most of us can't even imagine. This is about the fact that sometimes horrific things happen to great people and that we never know when disaster will strike. This is about the sad truth that as teachers, working with as many kids as we do, probability mandates that at some point we're going to face student death. It's a horribly realistic fact.

It's all just really terrible. I know the family and community would appreciate any prayers/warm thoughts/positive vibes you can send out there, on the chance that sort of thing does work. 


  1. Those kids and your students, their families, your fellow staff and the community are in my thoughts and prayers.

  2. There really is nothing to say when something like this happens. And how heartless of those reporters. My thoughts are with everyone affected by this tragedy.

  3. Oh man. There is nothing you will face in your teaching career that is worse than this. In the spring of 2011, one of my former students died. She had been a sweet little 7th grader with perfect handwriting during my first year teaching. At the time of her death, she was a sophomore and she'd just gotten her driver's license. A really bad car accident, and she was dead, just like that. It really shook me. I was able to feel somewhat removed since she wasn't my student at the time, no one at the middle school other than the teachers knew her, no kids were crying during class, but even so, it was so, so hard. Some things in life I just can't understand.

    It's awful and heartbreaking, and I'm going to say a prayer for the family and your school.