A locker memorial for a Saskatoon teen killed in an Alberta car crash will stay up until Friday according to Saskatoon Public Schools.
Students at Marion M. Graham Collegiate rallied to defend the tribute at the locker of 16-year-old Lauren Spence, who died last Friday in a collision northeast of Calgary.
Spence’s cheerleading teammate Jaime Drader said nearly 100 students took issue when the school’s vice-principal attempted to remove pictures and flowers from the locker during afternoon classes Tuesday.
“It’s how a lot of people were coping,” the Grade 12 student said. “They thought it was disrespectful it was being taken down so soon.”
Teachers attempted to coax the teenagers back to the classroom, but many refused until they were assured the memorial would stay.
One student trying to get to their locker nearby said people were yelling at the vice-principal and police officers showed up.
Drader said the school’s principal, D. H. Njaa, intervened and explained the plan was to create a memory book with the photos and flowers.
“He was saying he was trying to satisfy everyone,” Drader said. “Parents were emailing him saying they don’t think it’s good for the students to be seeing that and it should be taken down.”
Grade 11 student Jalynn Klassen said Spence’s friends get emotional walking past it but support keeping it around until the end of the school year.
“It’s been up for not even 48 hours,” she said. “I feel like they’re just dismissing it.”
Saskatoon Public Schools spokesperson Veronica Baker told 650 CKOM in a text message the school administration had a discussion on how to best support the students in a difficult time and decided the memorial would stay at the locker until Friday.
She added police were on scene for an unrelated matter.
‘Eerily quiet’ in the school
The incident broke a “sad silence” which had overtaken the school since news of Spence’s death, according to Drader.
“(Monday) was really sad and eerily quiet,” she said. “(Tuesday) was a bit better and obviously, it got crazy at the end of the day.”
Drader and Spence were on the school’s cheerleading team throughout the year, and said many are remembering Spence as a kind girl who could be a fireball.
“She would walk up to you and give you the biggest hug for no apparent reason,” Drader said. “But she was also blunt. She would straight-up tell you how she felt, but she never meant it offensively.”
She added everyone at the school is still grieving.
Counsellors had been dispatched to the school to help students in the wake of the tragedy.