Classmates gather to mourn loss of Bennion Junior High student who took his own life
Ninth-graders Makayla Schmidt and Ponia Clark said they came to the vigil not only in remembrance of the boy they had come to know in their classes, but also to support a friend who witnessed the tragedy. The gathering at the school gave students a chance to mourn together, Clark said.
"I knew (him) really well, and I think other people needed comfort as well as me,” she said said, her voice trembling as she looked around at the group. “I needed to find a place where I could cry.”
Schmidt said bullying is sometimes hard to see, especially when it is done through cruel words.
“I heard it, people (talking about him),” she said. “I don't think people realize how much words can hurt.”
Some mourners remained for more than an hour, while others stayed only a few moments. Schmidt said she wasn't surprised by the crowd.
“Everyone knew him,” she said. “He talked to everyone. He was so friendly.”
Renee Keomannong, a 10th-grader at Cottonwood High School, said she knew the boy from her time at Bennion. She and a group of friends wept as they spoke about mistreatment they'd witnessed in school.
"No one stood up for him," Keomannong said. "But now that something bad has happened, they finally came."
Contributing: Benjamin Wood
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