YONKERS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Ten Yonkers families are carrying the weight of sorrow after losing a child.
On Wednesday, the public school community told those families that it shares their grief and will keep the memory of their loved ones alive, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported.
Ten empty chairs.
Ten single white roses.
Yonkers Public Schools acutely feels the absence of students who died over the last three years.
“It’s about honoring the lives of 10 angels, who left us too early,” Superintendent Dr. Edwin Quezada said.
Quezada read the names Wednesday as students and families listened with masks on their faces but still unable to hide the pain in their eyes.
“One of the chairs represents a student in Grade 6, Nyran Plummer, who passed because of easy access to a gun,” Quezada said.
Four of the students died together in a single incident at a Yonkers intersection. A reckless driver smashed into the car they were in. It happened just days before Christmas 2020.
The loss of Brandon, Anthony, Randy and Tamari is still very fresh for their families.
Tamari Watkins Sr. attended the ceremony and told Aiello it was bittersweet.
“Sweet that the community got together, and bitter that so many young lives … I mean 10 is too many,” Watkins said.
In the Roosevelt High School gym that usually echoes with cheers, students read poetry.
“In this chaos, we will discover clarity. In suffering, we must find solidarity. For it is our grief that gives us our gratitude,” high school student Khristian Crawford said.
Gleny Perez, a student at Saunders High School, sang from the heart and spoke about how losing young friends has changed her.
“And it has motivated me to talk out and help my friends, you know, because I don’t want to keep doing this,” Perez said.
As the ceremony ended, there were red roses for the families, who showed “Amazing Grace” in the face of terrible loss.
Quezada told the families that he is committed to getting resources to students facing mental health and substance abuse issues.