A stranger’s death brings about compassion among high school students
I was startled awake at 2:21 a.m., Sunday morning, after the Park City High School Homecoming dance last month. My loud, annoying cell phone was ringing and flashing lights in the dark. I tumbled out of bed and fumbled through my purse which I had dropped on the floor about an hour earlier.
"Hello?" I mumbled groggily.
It was one of my best friends, Alexis Sumsion. "Are you OK?" was her greeting.
"Yeah, are you?" I was waking up enough to be confused by then.
She was fine, but she had heard that a local teen had died that night on the road. She wanted to make sure that her friends were OK. Once it became clear that I was home safe and sound, Sumsion told me to go back to bed and not to worry.
Naturally, after that conversation, however, I couldn’t just go back to bed. I made some of my own, half-awake phone calls before I fell asleep again. I was relieved my friends were accounted for.
The whole thing was such a crazy concept that, when I woke up the next morning, I checked the call log in my phone to make sure it was not just a dream. I really had received and made those phone calls.
As it turned out, a whole network of phone calls went out early that morning among all different groups of concerned high school friends. Kailey Olsen, a senior at the high school, said that she received numerous phone calls from people.
The scary thing was that all we had heard was that someone had died; no one seemed to know who it was. Everyone was worried about everyone.
Unfortunately, it was true that there was an accident on the road that night. A sixteen year old student from a neraby high school died in a car crash. This tragedy was a terrible loss.
There was, however, good that came of the bad. The scare inspired compassion among many other young people – compassion, which, in our stressful, fun-filled, on-the-go lives, is often pushed low on the list of priorities.
PCHS junior Megan Woodard smiled, thinking of how her friends cared enough to call her at 3 o’clock in the morning to make sure she was safe.
This demonstration of caring was especially valuable because, for some unknown reason, right now, more than ever before, all the students of PCHS seem to be too stressed and busy and tired to think of anyone else. It’s sad that there was such a tragedy, but it shook us up made us worry, and it is comforting to know that even in this busy and uncertain world, people still actually care about the lives of their friends.
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Thanks to COVID-19 cutting into visitation numbers, Park City’s seasonal workforce is sufficient. In any other winter, “the hiring situation would be dire.”