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Saturday, 18 February 2012

A Student Jumped to His Death at La Crescenta Valley High School

Drew Ferraro a 15 year old jumped to his death last Friday, off of a third-story  roof of Crescenta Valley High School, in front of horrified classmates during lunchtime.  His devastated parents say bulling was to blame. 

In the wake of the tragedy that hit our neighboring community of La Crescenta, so hard, last week,  I've posted news gathered from different sources:
La Canada, Valley Sun - February 15
The Crescenta Valley community turned out en force Wednesday to celebrate the life of a boy that family members described as a doting brother, an outdoor enthusiast and a champion of the marginalized.

“He always wanted to take care of the underdogs, the ones that were kind of left behind,” Cindi Rivas said of her nephew, Drew Ferraro, who authorities say committed suicide last week by jumping off a three-story building during lunch period at Crescenta Valley High School. “He would go over there and make himself one of them just because he didn’t want them to feel uncomfortable.”
The standing-room only crowd at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Tujunga included hundreds of students and staff from Crescenta Valley High, where the 15-year-old was a sophomore, as well as dozens of officers from the Los Angeles Police Department North Hollywood Division, where his father, John Ferraro, works.

Drew was born without fear, his parents and two sisters said in a eulogy that was read by Montrose Church Pastor Gabby Leon, and by the age of 5 had had more staples and stitches than most adults.

He was sneaky, and loved to scare people, just like his dad, they said. He was also sarcastic and always ribbing those closest to him. They recounted a more recent stunt in which Drew striped naked, wrapped himself in bubble wrap and ran down the street.

“For those not fortunate enough to know his laugh, it is a tragedy,” his family said. “He had one of those laughs that made a person laugh even louder. It was infectious and wonderful. Drew’s giggle was the most fantastic ever, it could 
bring a smile to anyone.”

LA Times, February 14,
Students at Crescenta Valley High School returned to class Tuesday for the first time since a 15-year-old student jumped to his death in what authorities have ruled a suicide.
Many students and staff wore black in memory of sophomore Drew Ferraro, who leaped from a three-story building into a crowded courtyard during lunch on Friday. The incident was witnessed by numerous students.
"I am not the person to wear black," said Corey Timpson, 17, as she headed to her first class. "I try to avoid it, actually, but today I wore it in respect for the loss."
Many students told the Glendale News-Press they were still in shock.
"[School officials] said there is going to be grief counselors available, so that is good," said Leo Rostamian, 18. "A lot of people are going to need that because a lot of people saw the fall."
Others said that they were trying unsuccessfully to avoid talking about the incident, which horrified witnesses and shocked the greater Crescenta Valley community.
"It feels weird, it is just awkward," said Garrett Manalo, 17, of being back on campus. "It is still depressing [with] everything that happened."
Members of the school community were encouraged to don black and heavy metal-themed T-shirts in memory of Ferraro, whom friends described as a music lover and a member of the junior varsity football team.

I found the following very well thought out reflections from John Leonard published at Glendale Newspress (Feb 16) 
Last Friday, a somber status update came across the social network: a tragedy occurred at Crescenta Valley High. A boy jumped to his death from the roof as students were filtering out for lunch.

This shook me because I personally know two students and their families, and I’m familiar with many of their acquaintances. Searching the Internet for information, it came slowly. A 15-year-old sophomore, one report said, but no name. I prayed it wasn’t either of the boys I knew, or any of their friends. Beyond that, I prayed it wasn’t true at all, that the reports were inaccurate. But they weren’t. 

More than just a school is distraught, an entire community is in shock. Information is limited, and answers are few while the questions are many. Why would a teenager do such a horrific thing? What caused him to take his own life at all, let alone in such a dramatic and public way?

How could no one see him climbing a roof? How could no one see he was troubled?

Teenage tragedy is not uncommon. Unfortunately, tragic things can happen to anybody and everybody. Many of us have dealt with similar situations in our lifetime. I am not immune. I know what it’s like to have a friend die tragically at such an early age, and how it sends shock waves and unanswered questions through a school, a district, a community.
There are conflicting reports about what took place on Friday. Bullying may or may not have been a factor.

 ThroughFacebook, Tumblr, and other outlets, speculation is flying about his parents and friends and how they could have prevented this from happening if they had been more aware. 

But by all accounts, he comes from good parents, a loving family; his friends were all close-knit, and they all hung out together doing normal 21st century kid stuff. The saddest thing about something like this is that everyone seeks answers and signs and solutions that don’t always exist.

I’m sure his parents and friends thought they knew him well (and they most likely did), but that did not prevent this horrible thing from happening. Still, a boy has killed himself. People knew him well, but didn’t know what he kept secret from them.

I personally hid a lot of pain clandestinely behind a smile, behind the sharp wit of an irreverent sense of humor. Sometimes I lashed out in anger, or acted obnoxiously, but no one (especially my parents) knew the hurt I was hiding.

The reality is there is no fail-safe way of knowing how to prevent something as devastating as what that student did from happening. Sometimes the cries for help are deafening, other times they can seem inaudible. Parents have it rough because they are guardians and disciplinarians first and friends last, but there needs to be a healthy balance.

Parents have to create a safe and open environment for their children to be secure in coming to them in any situation, but even if their kids come to them nine times out of 10, that 10% could be where they hide their deepest pain.

The reality is, there may never be answers to the questions so many seek. Perhaps the best we can hope for when tragedies like this occur is for a heightened sense of community, of awareness: not only of the cares and concerns of others, but our own and how we deal with them both internally and externally.

We all need to be better communicators, but we need to be even better listeners. This polarizing event needs to serve as a reminder that we need to be there for one another beyond the very words we often say, that we need to act on what we say.

So friends and family, be thankful for those who are in your lives because they can be gone before tomorrow. Be a comfort to one another, be a harbor in the storm, be a beacon in the abyss. Be honest because life is precious, life is a gift and life is beautiful.

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