United we stand

Nov. 11, 2008, midnight | By Deepa Chellappa | 15 years, 7 months ago

I was shocked when I heard about the death of Tai Lam last Saturday. He was so young and had so much to live for. An honor student, a member of the wrestling team and fashion club, Tai was clearly a popular kid. He made so many friends in just the first two months of school. Last week, the impact he had on Blazers was obvious. A purple-and-white haze enveloped the hallways, and bowed heads and tears were no strange sight.

Students expressed their feelings about Tai's death on white paper outside the SAC.  Photo courtesy of Lauren Poor.

Administrators, counselors and the SGA responded supportively and tactfully to the news. Just hours after Tai's death, the SGA created a Facebook page to inform Blazers of the news and changed Wednesday and Thursday's previously scheduled spirit days of Retro Day and Class Theme Day to White/Purple Days. Kids who never even met Tai were saddened by the loss of one of our very own and responded by donning the fashionable scarves for which Tai was so well known. Tai's friends and family constructed a memorial for him near the site where he was killed and held a candlelight vigil to cope with the loss. I was comforted to see that the administration was prepared to help students deal with the tragedy. I saw several counselors waiting patiently in the media center and the SAC to talk to students and staff, and Principal Williams was a pillar of strength and support throughout last week.

It is also commendable that the administration is considering introducing cross-cultural support groups and discussion forums to talk about the effects of gang violence. The final and perhaps most important step of the grieving process is to channel grief into something constructive, and we can all do our part to try to reduce violence in the world around us. By advocating for open communication, we can make Blazers realize that violence is not the only solution to anger and help to make our community a little safer.

There were some students who complained that wearing Tai's favorite colors to school was just a fad, quickly adopted by people who didn't know him just to jump on the bandwagon, but this is an insensitive and callous idea. When confronted with heartbreaking events like this, as Williams told Blazers on Wednesday, we must band together as a school and as a community to get through them.

I didn't know Tai Lam, but after last week I feel like I do. His death was a tragedy in so many ways. That a 14-year-old should be taken off the face of the earth so cruelly and unexpectedly is devastating and a sharp reminder of the transience of life. But in his short time at Blair, Tai made an incredible impression on our school. He helped all Blazers realize that in the face of adversity, love, friendship and the ties that bind us together can help to heal our wounds.

Deepa Chellappa. The high point of Deepa's life thus far occurred when she waved to Mickey Mouse at a Disney World parade and he blew her a kiss in return. Needless to say, she hates Minnie with a passion. In her free time, Deepa can be found … More »

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