Students send messages on balloons to fallen classmates

Shannon Litz / Nevada Appeal

Shannon Litz / Nevada Appeal

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As the sun sank behind the bleachers of the Carson High School football field Thursday, about 500 students and community members released blue and white balloons tagged with messages for their classmates Stephen Anderson, 17, and Keegan Aiazzi, 16, who were killed in a scuba diving accident Saturday.

Tina McAllister, 16, wrote to Keegan that he would always be in her heart. She told Stephen she would never forget his beautiful smile.

To them both she wrote, "Save a spot for me in heaven."

The balloon release came after an hour of celebrating the boys' memories while music from each of their iPods blared over the loudspeaker.

At sunset, leadership adviser Misty Harris called for a moment of silence. All laughter and conversation ceased as the balloons were released into the stillness.

It remained noiseless as the balloons rose up into the silver glow of the nearly full moon. Only the sounds of sobs broke the silence. Two birds danced in and out of the orbs until they disappeared into the gray clouds of twilight.

"You couldn't have written a better script," said teacher Angila Golik.

Throughout the memorial, students were invited to travel to different stations set up along the track where they could write their favorite stories of each of the boys, which will later to be given to their families.

They also could make bracelets as mementos to the juniors who both played on the football team, or tie ribbons on the fence to form each of their numbers. Their football jerseys, which were retired this week, were displayed along with their photos where students could pay their respects.

Jonathan Parker, 17, lost his brother, Alex, in a car accident last year. This, he said, feels the same.

"Our football team is a family," he said. "Losing them is like losing our brothers."

Lani Karosich, 17, wore the shirt she made Sunday and has worn every day since. On the front, she wrote, "Don't stop smilin' Stevo."

"He always had the biggest smile on his face," she explained. "His smile could bring someone from tears to happiness."

On the back, it said, "Every day we'll be missing you S.A. and K.A."

Wearing it, she said, brings her comfort.

"It makes me feel like they're still here," she said.

A contingent of students from Douglas High School attended with their leadership adviser as well. They brought a banner that read, "In loving memory of Stephen and Keegan. Despite our rivalry, we will always come together in times of need."

Students there joined with Carson High School students in wearing Carson's school colors of blue and white on Monday in honor of the two teens.

"We just came to show our support," said Maggie Argon, 18.

The memorial was organized by students and staff as a way to process their grief. Students also organized a vigil in the parking spots of the two boys on Monday and wrote their initials on C Hill on Monday evening.

"It's a nice way for them to remember," Harris said, who led the effort to organize the memorial. "The whole idea is to give the kids something they can do to positively grieve their friends."

Kamryn Forrest, 16, felt a sense of closure as the balloons floated up to heaven.

"Now they know what we have to say," she said. "It's not just in our hearts. They're going up and the boys will see them."


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