Patriot Perspective: Community unites after unexpected loss of student


Caroline Cooney

A student holds a candle in memory of sophomore Josh Hamer at the candlight vigil on Thusday, March 2. In addition to the vigil, students united together on Monday March 6, the community held a prayer service to honor and celebrate Josh’s life.

Hundreds of candles glowed on the baseball field, shining light in the midst of darkness. As more tears were shed and more candles were lit, students, faculty, parents, and friends alike wished this was all a horrifying nightmare. As members of the community sobbed in each other’s arms and his mother cried out, “He was my world,” the community knew there was no waking up.

On Thursday, March 2, sophomore Josh Hamer passed away unexpectedly after a tragic car accident on his way to school. While the community has struggled to understand why this has happened, we have come together and handled the death of one of our own in a beautiful way. With the support and guidance of faculty, staff, and administration, we have been able to unify as a community and begin a long healing process.

As the events unfolded, the administration delivered the news of the accident to the community in an appropriate manner by dividing the student body into their respective grade levels. The baseball team and Josh’s advisory were separated into smaller groups for a more intimate discussion. This proved to be an efficient way to allow everyone to process the information, rather than to cause further havoc by gathering the entire community in one place.

As the day progressed and the school received more information on Josh’s condition, faculty and staff kept the students updated. Vice Principal of Academics Gary Scholl graciously delivered all information possible and made the announcement of Josh’s death around 12:30 p.m. Through this time of grieving, guidance counselors generously opened their doors and students were more than grateful for their constant support.

In separate classrooms, students were given time to process the news. This situation proved very stressful and consisted of sitting with advisories in hopes of further instructions or news. However, not long after, the administration made a wise decision for the good of the community and canceled classes, along with those the following day.

This decision allowed students to grieve in peace, especially those who required time alone to cope. Saving the student body the pain of struggling through the week’s remaining classes was the best decision the school could make at this time.

As a community, we continued to honor Josh and to respect his family by organizing a vigil Thursday evening on the baseball field, a place where Josh developed close relationships with his teammates.

The vigil featured moving speeches from baseball coach Darrion Siler and junior baseball players Ryan Archibald and Luke Zagurski. Their speeches held such a high level of admiration for their beloved friend and teammate and brought a flicker of hope to those mourning. The approach to the vigil was heart-warming and felt intimate, despite the large crowd.

This vigil gave members of the community the opportunity to unite and to share stories commemorating Josh’s memory. Not only was it truly astonishing to see the amount of people who came to show their respect, but it also demonstrated the power behind coming together for an important reason.

While the community is still struggling with the loss of Josh, events including the vigil and the prayer service helped many cope and come to terms with his death. Each event provided an opportunity for everyone to support each other, rather than dealing with the grief alone.

In addition to the vigil, the school remained open on Friday and supplied several outlets for students to utilize in this time of grieving. Guidance counselors were available at the school to talk to anyone who needed it.

Knowing that this service was available to our community comforted students and reassured us that we must rely on each other to get through this difficult time and not to attempt to handle it on our own. It demonstrated how the members of the JC community truly care for one another and will support each other in the most difficult times.

Although this tragic loss has impacted our entire community, it has helped us mend the pain that we have struggled with and has helped us refocus on what it means to be a part of the Patriot family. Considering the circumstances, JC handled the loss of Josh with grace and has honored his life in a dignified way.

As we move forward, it is imperative that we continue to stay united as a community and cherish the compassion and support demonstrated during this tragic time. We must always remember Josh and the sense of community and work towards carrying it with us in everything that we do.