Memorial in Eureka High School Yearbook “Resolved Quickly and Respectfully,” Says Father

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Jordan Thamkamsom and Elizabeth “Lizzie” Gupton.

“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.”

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Amelia Resendez and Tayler Brambani

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.”

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10 comments

  • Great job Amelia!

  • I am glad this was resolved in a manner that was acceptable to Mr. Gupton but I suspect that the major reason an acceptable resolution was made possible in the last minute is that the school realized that a lot of negative publicity was highly likely to occur if they did not allow the memorials to happen. Lost Coast Outpost had already posted the story and others were waiting in the wings to see how today’s meeting was resolved.

  • I have not done a lot of research about teen or adult suicide. Of course we don’t want to do anything that might encourage it! But I find that not discussing it as a community or acknowledging people when they choose to go out like that…appears to be some sort of group denial. It leaves an emptiness deeper than their absence. I haven’t read studies but I personally think we should figure out how to talk more openly about suicide. I think it would do more help than hurt…. Congratulation on memorializing your classmate’s life! I have a wonderful friend who took her life this winter and I won’t deny her memory either. Long-term solution to a short-term problem- we all miss her terribly and wish to steer anybody away from making that terrible choice. Life is temporary enough already. And there are beautiful moments ahead.

    • sharpen your pencil

      A good way to have the conversation is to stop referring to the deaths as simply that, if someone was murdered, we would say the individual was murdered. But because a young girl killed herself we say she died…. the truth is she committed suicide. She didn’t get into a car accident and die, she wasn’t struck by a drunk driver, SHE TOOK HER OWN LIFE! Suicide needs to stop being downplayed!

  • I believe it is commendable of these students to show such grace and integrity with a situation of this sort, they will grow into fine young adults ..in a world that is needing such .

  • Way to challenge the authorities the correct way! and what a great outcome!!

  • Charlotte McDonald

    I am so glad that the school is allowing the students’ memorial pages. Honoring those who lost their lives should never be about how or why, but because their lives mattered to their peers, and friends.
    Proud of all the EHS students who signed a petition…

    My continued prayers for the two families who lost their son and daughter 💔💔 💧💧

  • Condolences to the families and friends of these young adults who lost their lives, so sad. But I’m happy to see a couple teenagers stand up for what they thought was right so they could memorialize their friends, that’s very sweet!

  • That’s good to hear. They have an opportunity to not only remind students of great loss, but an opportunity to reach out and remind all ages to seek help if they can’t swim to the sunlight surface. R.I.P. Dear Souls, you’ll be greatly missed.

  • So.glad it was resolved. This is a great opportunity to remind everyone that mental health is a disease and that there is help and that no one is alone in it.

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