Tragedy and how we come back

Ziv Galpaz, Managing Editor

After a difficult few weeks for the Branham community after the recent tragedies of losing sophomore student Rylen Antoine Medina and teacher Dietrich Lei many students have felt overwhelmed with the heavy feelings that come with loss and not knowing how to deal with  the overwhelming load that comes with being a student. Many students were lost in emotion and how to continue learning after such a shock. 


“With so much going on in our school, and even in the world,  having more people to reach out too would be nice.” Said Senior Taiga Yamaguchi,  “Also more permanent resources, I think would be a good choice.” After the tragedies on both occasions, grief counselors were available for students to have access to, to talk, listen, and give a sense of community at Branham. 

“It made me feel like I had a community behind me because Friday morning, it did not feel like I had community with me.” Said Junior Lily Mintz referring to the celebration of life for Mr. Lei that took place on October 13. On October 8th, students were informed of their teacher’s passing. Many classes were canceled, or just used as informal check-ins, while others went on as usual. One week prior, Medina passed away and it sparked a lot of debate not only on the schools mental health resources but also on the attitude towards the effect of school related stress on students. 


“We need to provide more help for kids with mental health, because I know our school does what they can at this moment, but that may not necessarily be what the students feel like they need.” Said Mental health forum Representative Abigail Felker shortly after the death of Rylen. The mental health forum is a group that meets the first wednesday of every month with admin and updates the staff on students mental health concerns and needs. 


Since the shift to online learning in mid March, distance learning has brought a heavy toll on many students; both those struggling beforehand and also those who were in good standing academically. The added stresses of the pandemic, political climate, isolation, financial uncertainty,  have led to an increase in depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders according to Reaching higher national organization. With the increased stress of the passing of a student and staff member, many students feel that they are on a tipping point. 


The effects of grief are one of the most intense feelings a student can go through. According to Kids Health if grief is not dealt with in the proper manner, It can lead to physical side effects such as, muscle pain, chest pain, difficulty relaxing and is also one of the number one causes of depression and anxiety. 


Sophomore Ryan Walters, an acquaintance of the Late Rylen Medina stated that although the passing had an innate effect on Branham, it also brought the Branham community together in a time of darkness. 


“I saw people at the ceremony who didn’t even know Rylen.” Said Walters “ It was crazy to see how much people cared.” 


Grief in times of difficulty can push children, teens, and adults into deep spirals of regret, pain, and shame but in times of trouble, we are in desire for love and community and Branham was able to come together as one.