By Marisela Burgos
FRANKLIN, Ind. (Aug. 5, 2014)-- Hundreds of Franklin Community High School students will start school tomorrow, and it will be the first time they are back since two classmates died in a tragic swimming accident.
Two months ago, five FCHS students were swimming in the Big Blue River in Edinburgh. Sarah McLevish went over the dam. Her four friends--Jason Moran, Michael Chadbourne, Trent Crabb, and Mark Nally--went after her, trying to save her.
Moran and Chadbourne died. Crabb and Nally survived the accident, as well as McLevish, who remains in stable condition at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.
FCHS Principal Doug Harter said they wanted to honor Moran and Chadbourne's memory at the beginning of the school year, as well as throughout the school year. Harter said the ribbons outside of FCHS and in the city will be taken down. In their place, two large ribbons will be displayed inside the school for the entire school year. One ribbon will be placed in front of the athletic entrance and the other one will be placed toward the front of the school.
The ribbons have three colors: blue, white, and yellow. The blue piece represents Moran. The white piece represents Chadbourne and the yellow ribbon is for McLevish.
Shelby Mullis will be a senior this year. Moran and Chadbourne would have been seniors this year, too. Mullis said she grew up with Moran.
“As a student body, we’re definitely going to be missing something and we won’t –as much as we’ve come together this summer- we won’t be a whole without the 2 of them,” Mullis said.
On Wednesday, which is the first day of classes, staff members will help students transition from summer to the new school year. There will be a moment of silence and then students will watch a tribute video.
Principal Harter said students will notice a number of special events in honor of Moran and Chadbourne throughout the year. There will be a memorial bench dedicated to them in time for the first football game. Moran and Chadbourne played for the football team.
“I think that will help that healing process because again one thing we’re trying to teach our students (is that) we want (them) to (be) supportive and recognize that they’re still hurting. But also, it’s important that we start to move on,” Principal Harter said.
When it is time for graduation, the two large ribbons at the school will be given to the families of Moran and Chadbourne.
“I just think it helps the memories of these two heroes live on,” Mullis said.
Mullis also called Crabb and Nally heroes. Principal Harter said everyone will be thinking about Crabb and Nally.
“They will again feel that support from our staff, as they come through the doors. I mentioned that to our faculty that you’ll have these students who are affected by this (situation) in your classroom and so we just need to be aware of their needs,” Harter said.
Harter said they will also be thinking about McLevish.
“We are just really hopeful that Sarah will continue to make progress and that at some point (we) will have a ceremony to kind of welcome her back into the building,” Harter said.
There will be counselors available to help students tomorrow on the first day of classes.