The Tapestry Charter High School is dealing with the tragic death of one of its refugee students. 18-year-old Kanu Kasonko was found dead along the NFTA Metro Rail’s Utica Station Monday evening. WBFO’s Senior Reporter Eileen Buckley reports the school has set up a second day of grief counseling.
“You know people are really taking this loss hard, because he was such a well-liked student,” said Dan DiCamillo, Principal of Tapestry High School.
DiCamillo is the brand new principal dealing with the horrific tragedy only two-days into his new job. He worked quickly Tuesday getting the word out about the student’s death to the entire school community through e-mails and Robo-calls.
NFTA officials said it appears Kasonko ‘willfully’ entered the Utica Station, jumping onto the tracks and running along them when he struck and killed by a train. The motive is still under investigation, but no foul play is suspected.
Principal DiCamillo tells WBFO News the school is open to provide a common space to grieve the loss of the student.
“It’s going to be an on-going thing and students deal with grief in various different ways. We want to make sure that we have an open space for them to come and share their sadness and also just to come together as a school community,” explained DiCamillo.
Students, families and staff trying to cope with the death of Kasonko will have a chance to talk their feelings with counselors between 1:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.
The student was a refugee from the Congo and became a citizen three years ago. He arrived at Tapestry as a 9th grader and would have been heading into his senior year when the new school begins this September.
"He was really well revered by his peers, staff. He got along well with the peers and all students and staff he came in contact with,” DiCamillo remarked.
Counseling will also be offered throughout the summer and into the new school year as needed.
“It’s a tragedy. I mean losing any loved one we can only imagine, especially losing a child is devastating,” DiCamillo noted.
The following is the full statement issued to the Tapestry community Tuesday:
It is with great sadness to learn that Kanu Kasonko, an 11th grade student at Tapestry High School, died Monday evening after being struck by a Metro train.
As a community who deeply cares for one another we are available to each other in times of joy and times of sadness and grief. Losing a member of our community impacts all of us in different ways and varying degrees. Any reaction is normal in the grieving process and can range from withdrawal to crying and anger. What is most important is that we hold together as a community and support each other through this challenging time.
Tapestry will be open all this week to provide a common space as a community to grieve the loss of Kanu. Additionally grief counseling will be provided as needed to any students, families, and staff in the high school today, Tuesday, July 26th and tomorrow, Wednesday, July 27th from 1:30-4:30 p.m., and as needed throughout the summer and school year.
As a school we will continue to inform our school community of any additional information regarding the loss of Kanu within the respect and desire of the family. Additional details will follow regarding a gathering at our school to remember Kanu. Please contact the high office with any questions you may have at 716-204-5883.
Once again I am sorry to share this tragic news. We are here to offer any support needed during this difficult time.
Dan DiCamillo, High School Principal
Benjamin Willis, High School Assistant Principal
Lynn Seagren Bass