Students try to cope with tragic loss of classmate - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Students try to cope with tragic loss of classmate

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) – A South Carolina high school is trying to cope with the tragic death of one of its students Friday.

Aaron Williams, 16, was badly burned on the campus of Academic Magnet and the School of the Arts.

North Charleston police say he intended to hurt himself by dousing his clothes with an accelerant.

Now, Williams' family, friends and classmates try to cope with the tragedy.

Hundreds of students set out flowers and gathered outside the school Friday to remember Williams. Students planned to wear red Friday in memory of Williams. The American flag is flying at half staff outside Academic Magnet High School.

A team of up to 45 grief counselors from different organizations were at the school Friday visiting classrooms. They are on site for students who need them. There will also be two parent resource sessions in the Academic Magnet cafeteria at 4:30 and 5:30 p.m.

Parents will learn about places to call or things to do to help their students cope with this tragedy.

One classmate actually saw Williams on fire and tried to save him. She's not looking forward to going to class Friday.

"(Friday) is going to be a bad day, a very bad day because I have him in all of my classes," said classmate Donaija Smith. "It's like you sit next to him and you're sitting next to an empty seat and to know that person will never come back to sit with you or laugh with you or talk to you."

Smith, a junior at Academic Magnet High School says the whole school has been shaken up by the death of Williams.

"Academic Magnet is one big family," Smith said. "When one hurts, we all hurt, when one grieves, we all grieve. You go through the day and let each other know that we're all here for each other."

Smith says Williams wasn't a popular guy, but he was well known.

"The unique thing about him is he walked around with a boom box like an 80's boom box and he'd have it on his shoulder and play like various types of music and blast it when we change classes and you'd just look at him like oh my god and laugh and smile," Smith said.

Since Williams' death, many students have changed their Facebook profile picture to his profile picture with the words "a boom box can change the world."

"Losing a child is an unspeakable tragedy.  On behalf of the entire Charleston County School District, I offer my deepest condolences to the Williams family.  Please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers," said Charleston County School District Superintendent Dr. Nancy McGinley.

McGinley also said there will be continued support for students, teachers and staff at Academic Magnet and the School of the Arts. The two schools share a campus.


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