Memorial in Eureka High School Yearbook “Resolved Quickly and Respectfully,” Says Father
“I just wanted to let you know that they’ve agreed to let us do the memorial for Lizzie, and they will allow one for Jordan, [also,]” Amelia Resendez, a student at Eureka High School, said this morning. “Inside I feel like doing back flips… .”
Resendez who is on the yearbook staff at her school was surprised earlier this month when told that the planned pages in the yearbook to memorialize two students who died this year were not going to be allowed. Elizabeth Gupton, she said, committed suicide and Jordan Thamkamsom had a medical condition.
“After Lizzie died this year,” she said, “we assumed we were going to put a memorial in [the yearbook.] After Jordan died, we were told we couldn’t do it.” She said the administration of Eureka High was concerned that the memorial could “trigger” other students to self-harm.
But Resendez felt differently. “I didn’t see it as highlighting. It was acknowledging the facts and respecting the fact that they died.”
Resendez, her friend Tayler Brambani, as well as other students decided to reach out to administration. “We made a petition, Resendez said. “We got over 500 students to sign in two days.”
Resendez was worried. “I was very nervous about making this petition but I thought the school encourages kids to fight for what they believe in and that’s what we’re doing,” she said. “The yearbook is for the students if [we] want to see these students recognized in there, I think it should be allowed.”
Jennifer Johnson, Eureka High School Principal, spoke to us yesterday. Because of family privacy issues she did not want to talk about the specific instances but she explained that to her understanding research about similar situations indicated that tributes can be problematic. “We’ve looked at best practices and research as to what you do as a tribute,” she said.
However, she continued to do research, she said, and met with the family of Elizabeth Gupton today. Johnson told us today that the school had decided to allow the memorial pages. She said that she had read more research. “The most important part besides the family’s wishes, she said, “is that you want to focus on celebrating on this student who was a member of your community.”
Elizabeth’s father, Jeff, told us that he was delighted to learn the memorial pages have been allowed subject to final approval of content from the administration. “I am thankful and relieved that this was resolved quickly and respectfully.”