These Students Found an Inventive Way to Comfort Their Grieving High School
Members of a grieving Ohio high school community received unexpected comfort from members of the student body as the school year began.
Mason High School was rocked in late August by the suicide of 15-year-old Kwadwo Boateng. The community was stunned by the boy’s death. Student Erica English described Boateng as, “always happy and smiling. He was really funny and always cracking jokes. Everyone loved him.“
The girl went on to say, “No one ever expected this to happen. It was shocking to everyone in the whole school. At first, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Everyone was sad and you could tell when people walked down the halls that it hit them really hard.”
English, along with her friends Anna Aronson, Michelle Crispin, Nick Krueger, Jessica Morse, and Ellie Uematsu wanted to find a way to honor their classmate and bring comfort to the school. They eventually settled on writing encouraging messages on colored post-it notes and attaching them to every locker in the school, based on an idea Aronson found on Pinterest. After getting permission from their principal, they were off and running with the idea.
Attaching Post-it notes to lockers belonging to all 3,600 students in the school plus all faculty members was a daunting task, but the friends thought the challenge was worth it. On top of that, the group wanted to keep the messages personal, as Aronson explained, “We wanted the messages to be personal so we wrote, ‘You are’ and then we came up with a bunch of words that we thought would be good, things that we wanted everyone to know were true.”
English added, “We wanted things that would hit people hard and make them realize that they matter and are important.”
The friends spent nearly 8 hours writing out the messages, encouraging each other all the while.
“When it started to get late, we got a little worried about getting it all done. But we wanted to commit to the project and stay as long as needed to make sure everyone got what they deserved,” Crispin said. “One of the things that inspired us to do this was that Kwadwo was such a positive person. He always wanted to spread so much joy and make people happy and we really looked up to him for that. We just wanted to do what he would have done for the world.”
Aronson described the morning when the kids’ project became public, “When I walked in everyone was smiling and reading their Post-it notes and comparing them with other people. You would see people walking around the school with their note taped to their shirt. It was the day of the funeral and everyone, particularly my grade, was still shocked about it.”
The six received almost universal acclaim and appreciation for their actions. Crispin described the overall reaction:
“The reaction and all the positivity that it spread around the school made us the happiest. And the fact that we could bring so much joy to the school with just a 3-by-3 Post-it note with three words on it. I feel like this not only made kids happy but it will inspire them to do great things for people they don’t even know and continue to spread joy.”