Art Aguilar hands the microphone to Rose Garcia before she reads

With words, music and tears, friends and classmates of the
Britton ninth grader who took her life March 7 celebrated her life
and acknowledged their grief in a memorial for her Friday
With words, music and tears, friends and classmates of the Britton ninth grader who took her life March 7 celebrated her life and acknowledged their grief in a memorial for her Friday afternoon.

“You always made me feel better when I was blue; I’m sorry I couldn’t do the same for you,” Robyn Garcia, the girl’s best friend, said in her tribute.

Approximately 25 students worked together with counselor Karen Cyrus to arrange the memorial, including collecting donations of food and other items from local businesses.

“We’ve come to the end of a very difficult week,” Britton Principal Jim McDonald said before the memorial. “We’re proud of the way the students handled this. They wanted to remember Jamie in a way the school could share, and they got busy.”

McDonald and staff members who attended were part of the memorial audience; only Jamie’s friends who had planned it had a role in the tribute.

The whole student body and staff were invited; McDonald said some of the staff and students told him in advance they needed to grieve in their own way and would not be there.

The middle school auditorium was filled with Britton students of all grade levels, though predominately ninth graders. Some of the staff, parents and district representatives also attended, as did the family of the girl.

As the room began to fill, the chatter was loud over the music selected by the girl’s friends. As 3:30 approached, student Art Aguilar came to the podium in front of the stage, which was decorated with flowers, balloons and pictures of Jamie. He simply took the microphone and put a finger to his lips, and the room began instantly to quiet down.

After welcoming the crowd, which had grown respectfully silent, Art explained that during the memorial, the audience would hear speeches and poems written by “friends who miss her deeply.”

At least 18 students read their tributes to Jamie.

Many of the students said they would miss her laughter and her smile. Some of them expressed regret that they had not been able to help her.

“If only I had been faster …. If only I had been able to save you … If only I could hang out with you again,” said Michael Villalobos in a poem.

Ramon Lopez was one of many students who wrote that Jamie would never be forgotten.

“You were a loving person and you will always be missed,” he said. “You were smart, beautiful and always so wise.”

Cyrus said the memorial was important to the students, especially those who planned it, in several ways.

“These students utilized all of their energies in a positive way for a friend,” she said. “There was a lot of emotional energy there … It was very cleansing for them to put this together.”

Even though most of the messages the students read were full of descriptions of Jamie, they all found something different to comment on.

“You were the brightest person in the room,” said Alley Rosen. “You filled everyone’s heart, you lifted everyone up.”

As the poems and letters were read, the audience, mostly students, was silent. Most of the committee members reading the writings were able to read without giving way to tears, but near the end of the memorial, it was clearly becoming difficult for Jamie’s closest friends to hold their emotions in check.

A moment of silence was observed.

Before inviting everyone to enjoy refreshments, the committee presented a memory book and flowers to Jamie’s family and pictures to McDonald, Cyrus and some of her closest friends.

Students gathered in groups hugged, reminisced and cried together after the memorial.

“We still have a long healing process ahead of us, but this is a good beginning,” McDonald said.

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