The death of Michael Goodgame last Friday was the latest tragedy for Staples High School’s Class of 2011.
Staples principal John Dodig shares the pain of the class that graduated less than 3 years ago. Today, he wrote this note to the class of ’11. He has no direct way of contacting those 1800 young people, but perhaps by social media — and “06880” — his words will reach them. And reach others also, in other Staples classes, who have lost friends and loved ones, far too soon.
Dear members of the Class of 2011:
Most of you know that Michael Goodgame was killed in a terrible auto accident near his college. Terrible weather created hazardous road conditions, resulting in an accident that took Michael’s life, and the lives of 2 friends and classmates.
I was reminded that 2 other members of your class have passed away since graduating from Staples: Ali Mirza and Andrew Accardi. Even to someone like me, who has spent 43 years working with teenagers in both urban and suburban high schools, losing this many young people from one class is extraordinary.
I hope that one of the things about your experience at Staples that you will continue to remember is our emphasis on being kind to one another. Although I know I cannot mandate kindness and acceptance of difference, I have made an effort to make my beliefs known whenever I meet with groups of students, and almost every time I write to parents. One of the hallmarks of our school is that most students can spend 4 years here, find themselves, perhaps find and/or nurture a passion for something, and navigate high school life relatively unscathed. Nothing is perfect, but I continue to marvel at Staples students who tell me that they enjoy being here.
Michael, Andrew and Ali were all very different. They are all remembered, however, for the same thing by the adults in our building. They were all kind, caring, giving young men who contributed in their own way to the positive school environment I described above. I have no answer to those who ask me “why” they died. If asked, I can answer the question “what did they contribute to Staples?” That is what I focus upon when I think of these 3 young men.
I am writing to you because I felt that you may need to know that the adults in your high school remember you and share your pain and loss. There is nothing I can say that will make you feel any better. Losing a friend and member of this class is painful. It simply has to be processed until it no longer occupies your thoughts every waking moment. Eventually, you will file the feeling and memories in a place in your brain where you can retrieve them at will. With social media and your yearbook you will always remember each young man’s face, his smile, what he was involved at school, and what his dreams were. Relish those memories, and share them with others when appropriate.
I am truly sorry that you have to bear this pain and sadness. I want you to know that we are thinking of you.