Today has been the single worst day in my 13 years as a school counselor. I found out last night that one of my 9th grade students was shot and killed late Saturday evening. I have lost former students before, but never a current student. Considering the population that I work with, I knew that this day might eventually come. It is still devastating. Thankfully, today is a teacher work day (end of the quarter grades are due) so we have time to put a plan of action into place.
This young man, according to reports, was not a kid doing bad, he was riding public transportation home with friends. They were on the bus when a group of young adults (twenty somethings) entered the bus and excitedly spoke to one another (not in English) that they were just waiting for someone to do something so they could have a reason to take action. This conversation was translated to my student and the others by a friend with them on the bus. They did nothing. They tried to stay under the radar hoping to avoid an altercation. The bus stopped and the group of men went to get off the bus. As they exited, one held the door open and another reached in and started shooting. My student died on the scene in his older brother's arms.
I just got back to work from visiting with the family. It was hard. There was an altar set up in his honor and we were urged to light sticks of incense. His mother broke down in my arms more than once. I was honored when she asked me to go and see his room with her. His clothes were laid on the bed and candles were lit. It was very emotional.
Funeral arrangements have not been finalized, but of course the family cannot afford it. The school is setting up a fund to help defray the costs. As a mother, my heart aches for this woman- a single mom working to support her kids as a nail technician. I found out she gives all her tips to her kids so that they can buy their clothes at the outlets. She is a good woman, and he was a typical 9th grade student trying to make his way through the transition to 9th grade. He was a very popular student, nominated for homecoming court.
This will be a difficult week for all of us.