This weekend, Trinity Gay was shot, accidentally, as she was hanging out with her friends in a South Broadway restaurant where my daughter used to hang out with her friends. Several people were arguing in the parking lot, and traded shots. A bullet went stray and stuck Trinity in the neck, killing her.
Trinity was a student at Lafayette High School, where one of my kids is a student, and another recently graduated. Lafayette brought in grief counselors, and is having a memorial tonight after the football game.
These are the right things to do, because Trinity was part of the school community. She had friends and family who will grieve her passing, and need to do this in community.
Trinity was 15. She was a promising track star. Her father is an Olympic sprinter.
On September 26th, Jordan Perkins, another Lafayette student, was driving with three of his friends, and was involved in a car crash, in which he was killed. All three of his friends have serious injuries. Jordan was 15, a Freshman, and was on the football team.
Lafayette High School did not send email home to parents about this incident. They did not bring in grief counselors, nor did they have any kind of a memorial for Jordan. Presumably this is because the car that Jordan was driving was stolen, and had weapons and drug paraphernalia in the trunk, and Jordan is rumored to have been high and possibly drunk at the time of the crash. Jordan can be said, objectively, to have reaped the rewards of his own decisions.
But, here’s the thing. The Fayette County Schools’ motto is “it’s all about kids”. Jordan was a kid. He did something stupid, and he died as a result. His friends were hurt with him. But pretending that it didn’t happen – not giving Jordan’s friends and acquaintances a space to struggle with the senselessness of it, a place to grieve, a time to remember him – communicates that he’s less important because he made a mistake. It tells other kids that are on this same trajectory that their struggles are less important than those of a beautiful track star with lots of friends and a famous dad.
Please don’t hear me saying that the school should have done less for Trinity. My heart is broken for her family, her friends, and even the kids who only knew her from seeing her passing in the hall. If only we could do more.
But they should also do as much – exactly the same things – for Jordan. Because it’s all about kids. And he was another kid, with friends, with acquaintances, with family. And now he’s gone, too.