Saturday, June 11, 2005

A Student Passes Away

Roseville Area High School has had its fair share of tragedy since I began observing and teaching this year. They lost Fran Larson, a Spanish teacher, just as I started to get observation hours in when she died young of natural causes. One of my students lost his father. Another student was struck by a car (and survived) after getting off a bus. I believe a coach's wife died this school year as well, though I'm not positive.

The last day of school included a end-of-school-year party at Como Park, which ended in tragedy. Junior Derrick New was killed when he was punched once in the face by a friend in a dispute over a pipe. My own student, BO, who had just written me a wonderful e-mail about how teachers like me made it fun to come to school and participate--he had also said thanks for getting him motivated again--is featured in Channel 4's news coverage of the event. There's a video of it as well as a short article.

While I didn't know Derrick, I recognize him from around school. I also recognize Alfredo, another student quoted from this station, from his name being mentioned a few times in the lunch room! The student who punched Derrick is apparently one of Amy's former students. I don't know who it is, so I'm not sure if it's someone she had this year or last.

My heart goes out to Derrick's family and friends, especially the two that I know of who are my former students, Brad and Burgess... My heart also goes out to the student who punched Derrick and his family and friends. So many lives will change because of one small moment--something that could have easily gone another way. What a sad way to begin the summer.

Here is the statement from Roseville HS's website (it will be up on the link for a while, but to preserve it here):

Press Release

June 10, 2005

Sally Latimer

Director of Community Relations


This morning district officials received a report from the St. Paul Police concerning the death of a Roseville Area High School junior last night. Students were gathered in St. Paul when the incident occurred between two youth.

Although we are not able to discuss the details of the students due to data privacy, we can confirm that both students involved attend the Roseville Area High School.

School staff are deeply shocked and saddened by this tragic event. Our sympathy goes out to both families.

Although school is not in session, school counselors and members from the Center for Grief and Loss in St. Paul are available to support our school community of parents, friends, and families. A grief support meeting has been set for Monday,June 13 at the Roseville Area High School Counseling Center from 9:00 AM to Noon.

And the article from WCCO:

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Derrick S. New

Police: Student Dies After Fight

· VIDEO: Nelson Garcia reports.

Jun 10, 2005 8:45 am US/Central
St. Paul (WCCO) A Roseville area high school student has died
<>after being punched at a party, police said.

Derrick S. New, 17, was pronounced dead at Regions Hospital in
St. Paul early Friday morning.

Police said New was attending a party in Como Park near Horton
and Hamline Avenues Thursday night with as many as 100 other
high school aged people.

Around 11:30 p.m., police said New got involved in an argument with another 17-year-old male over a piece of property he thought New was trying to steal.

New was standing near a fire pit when the other male came up and punched him in the face, witnesses told police.

"The kid who hit him just walked away, and I was like, 'Why'd you hit my friend?'" B O recalled.

New wound up laying on a nearby picnic bench. He became unresponsive.

"I ran over there," O said. "He was just laying there across the picnic table. I'm just like, oh my God."

O said New was bleeding from his head.

"Usually (if) somebody just gets hit, they shake it off and get back up, but he wasn't getting back up," O said. "(He was) just laying there on the picnic bench and people were just trying to shake him, like, 'Derrick, wake up, wake up.' I was like, 'Derrick, please wake up. Please, just wake up.'"

Family members said they believed New's head hit the pavement.

New was transported to the hospital, where he died. The Ramsey County Medical Examiners Office will perform an autopsy on him.

"He's going to truly be missed by his family," New's aunt Julia New-Landrum said. "He was someone that was always trying to help other people."

"Best friend I ever had in my life," classmate Alfredo R said. "His voice, the way he talks, he was just a funny guy. Always put a smile on your face."

"I'm not mad, I just don't understand," New's aunt Marcella New said. "I just don't understand."

Classmates gathered Friday to mourn and remember New. They, too, had trouble understanding what went wrong at an event that was supposed to be a celebration among friends.

"It's the last day of school, and then my friend dies," O said. "I love that kid, man. You just don't find kids like that."

New and the person who hit him were friends, witnesses said.

The suspect was arrested and is being held at the Ramsey County Juvenile Detention Center.

(© MMV, CBS Broadcasting Inc., All Rights Reserved.)

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