The Pizza

Sometimes one memory is all it takes to bring you to tears.

In the second half of the 2011-2012 school year, I was a paraprofessional for an 8th-9th grade Math class at Campus Community School.  It was the high school’s last full year as they were closing it and moving the elementary school to that location.  Mrs. Eldridge’s math class was different.  This was before Common Core really took off.  My job was to help students who were struggling with different concepts or problems.

In this capacity, I got to know many of these young teenage students.  One of them I will call A.  She was bubbly, energetic, and talkative.  I also helped to monitor the cafeteria while students were having lunch.  I would often joke around with A and her friends at their table.  They were always laughing and having fun.  In the Math class, A was having difficulty getting her grade up.  She was very intelligent, and capable of doing the work.  But focus seemed to be tough for her.  By the end of the year, A had to get some assignments completed or she wasn’t going to pass.  Mrs. Eldridge offered after-school help but by the end of the year many students were behind.  A asked if I could help her after school to complete her assignments.  Since I was a paraprofessional, my hours were limited and I wouldn’t get paid to help her after the school day ended.  But I offered to do it for free.  A told me she was going to order pizza.  I thought she was joking about that part!

As Mrs. Eldridge worked with other students, A and I churned through her assignments.  The pizza came and I was starving.  I believe it was a meat lovers pizza.  I had to redirect A a few times but she got it all done and passed the class.  I was very proud of her.  Sometimes a student just needs that extra little push to just get it done.  If it takes some volunteer time after school, bribed by a student with free pizza, why not!

Yesterday, A was tragically killed.  Shot in a Dover motel room by her fiancé.  Since her name hasn’t been officially released, I won’t say it here.  But everyone on Facebook knows at this point.  She was a good kid.  Like all teenagers, they have their moments.  But taking her life shouldn’t have been the way to work things out.  That kind of solution isn’t acceptable.

As messages and Facebook comments poured in, I began to get a clearer picture of what happened to A.  Her fiancé put a post up on Facebook not long ago about doing what he eventually did.  It looks like friends tried to warn her about him.  As he sits in a cell, A is gone from this world forever.  A young and beautiful soul, unable to complete what life was going to send her way.  I know God has a plan for everything.  I believe that.  But I will never understand this kind of cruelty.

A was one student of many I helped out in the math class.  I remember them all.  I saw several of them posting comments yesterday on her Facebook page.  Most of them either graduated last year or will this year.  A was graduating this year.  I only knew her for a very short period in her life.  But I cried for her nonetheless.  I pray for her family and friends during this time and hope they can eventually make sense of this one day.  Many of us are in shock today.  We will miss you A!

I have to believe something isn’t quite right when someone makes the decision her fiancé did.  The fact it happened the way it did shows some type of planning on his part.  After all, he did “predict” this with his Facebook post.  The heart is very forgiving when it wants to be but don’t ever let your mind ignore a threat.  Sometimes people say stupid things, but sometimes they don’t.  It is difficult to discern a thought from a planned action.  There are no easy answers…

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