Cafeteria Chats: Coping with the loss of a classmate

Jun 7, 2017

Over the last few months we have explored the many day-to-day challenges of high school students. But we’re now focusing on a topic that surfaced during one of our recent Cafeteria Chats at Starpoint High School in Lockport.  WBFO’s senior reporter Eileen Buckley says sadly, students faced a profound moment of losing a classmate earlier this year.  

WBFO's Cafeteria Chats at Starpoint High School in Lockport.
Credit WBFO News photo by Jonny Moran

A noisy school cafeteria may seem to be an insensitive place to discuss a student’s death.  But it is where students to speak comfortable about teenage life.   

Inside the cafeteria at Starpoint High School in Lockport.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Earlier this year a Starpoint High School student died.  We are not here to give details surrounding his death - but instead want you to hear how some of the students are coping with such a difficult issue.

“Like every morning he was kinda the first face that registered in my mind, so I was still looking for him, I just-just do it subconsciously – it’s not as noticeable,” remarked Elizabeth Morse.  

Morse is completing her junior year. She reflected on what it was like to come back to school when a classmate she shared a locker area with suddenly died. 

Outside at Starpoint High School in Lockport.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

“I didn’t know him too personally, but he’s-he was my locker neighbor, so I saw him multiple times a day. And it’s definitely hard. It’s definitely a hard thing for everybody. And he is missed. We still talk about him, remember him and everything,” Morse explained.

“What is it like for you when you’re in your locker area, especially right after it happened? Did you kind of constantly get that feeling, that heavy feeling?” Buckley asked.    

“Yeah. For the—mostly I saw him every single morning and every afternoon at the end of the day, and so when I come—at first when I came to school, I’d always be looking to see if he was there or not. And at the end of the day, definitely looking over my shoulder to see if he was coming, even though in my head I knew that he wasn’t coming,” replied Morse.  

“Did you have any difficulties? Did you ask for counseling or did it affect you that way?”  Buckley questioned.   

“No, I didn’t ask for counseling. I didn’t think I needed it. It’s still—it was—it didn’t affect me as strongly because I didn’t know him on a personal level,” answered Morse.

“How heavy was that mood here at the school, though, just in general?” asked Buckley.  

“Oh, it was very heavy. People that, uh, didn’t know him or didn’t have classes were crying in the hallways and they were sad. It definitely affected every single person, whether you knew him or not. It was a hard thing for everybody,” Morse remarked.

“I actually knew him. He was my gym partner for the first half of the year,” said Devin Eick, Starpoint junior.

Eick had close contact with the student who died.  

“So that was extremely surreal, finding out that and then having to go into gym and then look at his locker not there, looking in class and not seeing him there. So it definitely hit me pretty hard,” Eick recalled.   

“Did you ask for any counseling?” asked Buckley. “My mom’s actually a school psychologist, so I just talked to her a lot, so that was pretty helpful,” replied Eick. “Can you share at all what she told you or is that too personal?” Buckley asked.

“It’s not too personal. I mean, I don’t really remember it, because that was a lot of emotions going on, but it was definitely just talking through, like, what happened, why he did it and stuff like that,  I mean, it still hasn’t fully impacted, but—it’s just so surreal.” Eick remembered. 

But what was it like during that day and those moments after?  

WBFO's Cafeteria Chats at Starpoint High School in Lockport.
Credit WBFO News photo by Jonny Moran

“Well there was a rumor going around. I’m like, there’s—it’s not him. I was talking about him yesterday, we were laughing about something in class! And then, email got sent around and I asked a teacher I’m pretty close with and he’s like [yeah] and I’m like—out of body experience—I’m like, ‘whoa, that’s…Then the rest of the day just, I don’t even remember, it’s just crazy,” Eick described.

Eick explained the experience as something he never felt in before in his life and said you knew something off in the entire school. But it’s been even more difficult for a close friend of the teen who died. Thursday in part two of our Cafeteria Chats we will hear from more Starpoint students who describe what it has been like to lose a classmate.