Wednesday, October 8, 2008

When work becomes personal

I realize my work life and personal life should be kept separate. Being the semi-emotional person I am though, I sometimes get too attached to my subject matter for the stories I write. Sometimes, I think that makes my stories better, though, and sometimes I truly believe it makes me a better person.

Case in point: I just last week had a story printed about a local group of students who created a memorial for a friend and co-student who died in a car crash a year ago. The student, who we will call Mike** was a standout football player and all-around well-liked guy. About 10 of his classmates took part in this memorial and I spent an hour or so with them a couple of weeks ago, talking about him, having them show me the memorial, etc. I also talked with their teacher and class advisor, Ms. Smith** who was almost the glue holding these kids together after such a tragic loss. Ms. Smith's daughter also was in this group of students and they both talked to me about their foreign exchange student who was visiting from France.

Well, two days ago there was a very bad car crash near our mall. Kassia and I both saw it on our way to meet for dinner the other night and commented on how severe it really must have been. I found out last night from one of the students that the crash involved Ms. Smith and her foreign exchange student. Turns out the student died from her crash injuries, and once again, this group of students is rocked to the core with tragedy, just one year after losing their best friend.

They say that you're only ever given as much as you can handle. These people must be a lot stronger than I am, that's all I know. Moments like this make me question my faith and believe in faith simultaneously.

Please keep these students who have impacted my life in your thoughts today.

** Names have been changed.

From the paper today: (No I did not write this one and I apologize for all the name-deleting, but I can't take any chances...)

A 17-year-old French foreign exchange student died early Tuesday after a two-vehicle crash late Monday afternoon on xxx Road near the entrance to the xxxValley Mall.

xxxExchange studentxxx, 17, of Versailles, France, died at Children's Hospital in xxx, where she had been transferred after the 5:30 p.m. accident Monday, said xxx, xxxTownship police chief.

xxExchange Studentxx was a passenger in a Mercury Mountaineer driven by xxxTeacherxxx. xxxTeacherxxx was serving as her American host, police said.

xxTeacherxx is the librarian at xxxxx Junior/Senior High School.

xxx Township police said xxTeacherxx's vehicle was traveling north on xxx Road when she moved into the turning lane and turned into the path of a Jeep Grand Cherokee driven by xxx.

The xx Teacher xx vehicle was struck on the passenger side and rolled over, police said. xxExchange studentxx was trapped inside and extricated by emergency personnel.

She first was taken to xxxx Regional Health System, xxxx Hospital Campus, and then transferred to Children's Hospital by medical helicopter.

Police are continuing the investigation. xxPolice Chiefxx said there was no reason to believe drugs or alcohol were involved.

The xxxx County medical examiner is to conduct an autopsy today, xxPolice chiefxx said.

Both xxTeacherxx and xxOther Driverxx were in fair condition Tuesday at xxxxx Hospital, according to hospital officials.

xxExchange studentxxx was attending classes at xxxxxxx High School although she was living in the neighboring xxxxxxxx School District, school officials said.

She originally had planned to attend xxxxxx with xxxxxx's daughter Elizabeth, but that school did not have the proper certification to accept her F1 student visa. xxxxxxx, however, did have that certification.

''We were in the process of obtaining certification so she could attend school here, but the application process would take four to five months,'' said xxxxxx, xxxxxx principal. ''xxxxx graciously offered her an opportunity to attend their school. The plan was for her to attend xxx for the first semester and xxxxxx for the second semester.''

xxxExchange Studentxxx attended band practices at xxxxxx with xxTeacher's daughterxx, xxxxx said.

''She was very well-liked here, although she was not a student. It is extremely sad,'' he said.

Exchange students' death had an impact on both schools.

''It is just so unfortunate this happened and the impact it has on two small school districts. It has been a trying day here today,'' xxxxxx Superintendent xxxxxx said.

''She was a bright young lady who got along very well with the students and staff here,'' xxxxxx Principal xxxxxxx said.

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