West­lake holds can­dle­light vigil for fallen se­niors

Stu­dents killed in Fri­day ac­ci­dent, two oth­ers hon­ored at gath­er­ing

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com

Hun­dreds of friends, class­mates, fam­ily mem­bers and com­mu­nity mem­bers filled the bleach­ers and lined the stairs at West­lake High School’s sta­dium Wed­nes­day for a can­dle­light vigil for four se­niors who lost their lives this school year, in­clud­ing two killed in a car acci- dent last Fri­day.

“I want to thank God and their par­ents for al­low­ing them to be a part of our lives,” said Pear­son Ben­son, presi- dent of the Class of 2017. “The me­mories and mo­ments that we shared with these four young men were spe­cial to all of us. Caleb, Reuel, Colin and Des­mond would be proud to see us sup­port­ing each other in these try­ing times.”

The event, or­ga­nized by the school’s Stu­dent Gov­ern­ment As­so­ci­a­tion, fea­tured per­for­mances by the school’s jazz en­sem­ble and choir.

Des­mond Cooke and

Colin Bi­pat were killed shortly af­ter noon March 3 when their car struck a traf­fic light pole.

An­other pas­sen­ger, Ca- leb Marshall, who had al- ready com­pleted his grad­u­a­tion re­quire­ments and was at­tend­ing the Col­lege of South­ern Mary­land, was in­jured in the crash.

Marie Burgess, school coun­selor for the Class of 2017, said she had watched these young men grow from fresh­men into se­niors with bright fu­tures af­ter high school.

“It is the loss of these fu­tures that makes this even more tragic,” Bur- gess said.

Burgess said she saw Bi­pat twice the morn­ing of the day he died. “I said some­thing to him, and he gave me a big, toothy grin, a nice smile, and that was the last time I saw him,” she said.

Burgess said Cooke was a bright young man who loved his mother and his fam­ily very much.

“Ev­ery­thing he did was to try to make her proud,” Burgess said. “Some­thing about the love he had for his mother, his sib­lings, his fam­ily will stick with me for­ever.”

Rhonda Kelly spoke on be­half of the Cooke fam­ily, thank­ing the school com­mu­nity for its sup­port.

“Con­tinue to live your dreams, con­tinue to do your ac­tiv­i­ties, have fun, even in this tragedy and in your heartache,” Kelly said. “Re­mem­ber the fun- ny sto­ries, the good times, re­mem­ber to laugh, and when you do those things, you’ll be re­mem- bering them and keep­ing their lega­cies alive, the way they were.”

Reuel Hicks was fa­tally shot Oct. 26, 2016, out­side the St. Charles Towne Cen­ter movie theater, leav­ing be­hind a grief-stricken fam­ily and a girl­friend car­ry­ing his child, due in June. A sus­pect has been ar­rested and charged with first-de­gree mur­der in the killing.

Dou­glas Lamb, vice prin­ci­pal for the Class of 2017, said Hicks’ per­son­al­ity and hu­mor made a huge im­pres­sion on him.

“That young man was on track, and he had ev­ery­thing go­ing for him. There’s not a day goes by that I walk through this build­ing, that I keep ex­pect­ing him to come around the cor­ner,” Lamb said.

Caleb Horne died July 11 from a pre­vi­ously undis­cov­ered heart con­di­tion — car­diomy­opa­thy — ac­cord­ing to his mother, Pam Horne.

West­lake Vice Prin­ci­pal Curry Werkheiser said Caleb Horne was a gifted mu­si­cian who could “hear mu­si­cal pos­si­bil­i­ties like a skilled chess player sees moves on a chess board.”

“He would share new song ideas with me, and I would in­tro­duce him to old-school mu­si­cians who paved our way, and he would get me hip to the new­com­ers in the art,” Werkheiser said.

Pam Horne, Caleb’s mother, said the West­lake Class of 2017 has a spe­cial place in her heart.

“I say to you, you will get through this,” Horne said. “And as a tribute and in the mem­ory of Colin, Des­mond, Reuel and Caleb, please con­tin- ue to dream and strive ev­ery day. Do it for them, do it for your loved ones, your fam­ily, your friends, but most of all, do it for your­selves. Don’t let these tragic — and they are tragic — losses stop you from achiev­ing your goals.”

Caleb’s mom also of­fered words of en­cour­age­ment to the other griev­ing fam­i­lies.

“As a mother who’s also go­ing through the griev­ing process, I want to ex­tend my con­do­lences to the moth­ers and your fam­i­lies,” Pam Horne said. “I know, the Com­forter will be with you. Lean on the Lord.”

West­lake Prin­ci­pal Michael Mieser of­fered his deep­est con­do­lences to the griev­ing fam­i­lies and friends.

“We must step back and be grate­ful that we had this time to spend with these four young men,” Meiser said. “Don’t ask why this has hap­pened. We are not able to an­swer that ques­tion. Why is de­ter­mined by a higher be­ing. He has a plan of vic­tory and not of loss.”

Pas­tor Nel­son Bowen of iN­gage Min­istries gave the clos­ing re­marks. In a prayer, he asked, “God, I de­clare and de­cree, that not an­other stu­dent will have to be re­mem­bered in this way.”

Me­mo­rial ser­vices for Bi­pat will take place to­day, with vis­i­ta­tion be­gin­ning at 9 a.m. un­til time of ser­vices at 11 a.m. at New Life Wes­leyan Church, 9690 Shep­herds Creek Place, La Plata, with in­ter­ment im­me­di­ately to fol­low in the church ceme­tery.

Me­mo­rial ser­vices for Cooke will take place March 14 from 9 a.m. un­til time of ser­vices at 11 a.m., also at New Life Wes­leyan Church, with pri­vate in­ter­ment.


Stu­dents, staff and com­mu­nity mem­bers hold can­dles in mem­ory of four mem­bers of the West­lake High School Class of 2017 who died this year.

Pamela Horne, the mother of Caleb Horne, ac­com­pa­nied by mem­bers of her fam­ily, speaks to West­lake High School stu­dents, staff and com­mu­nity mem­bers dur­ing a vigil held Wed­nes­day evening for the four mem­bers of the Class of 2017 who have died this school year.

West­lake High School stu­dents and com­mu­nity mem­bers hold can­dles as the school’s choir sings “See You Again” dur­ing a vigil held for four stu­dents from the Class of 2017 who died this school year. STAFF PHO­TOS BY JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU

The West­lake High School Jazz En­sem­ble per­forms “Or­ange Col­ored Sky” dur­ing a vigil Wed­nes­day to honor the mem­ory of four se­niors who have died this school year.

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