Principal of Muschett High School in Trelawny, Leighton Johnson, has described the feeling at the institution as one of hurt, following yet again the tragic death of one of his students.
The students and staff, who are still trying to come to grips with the death of young Shanique Rose, who was shot in the back on the way back from a party some four weeks ago, are again faced with a similar situation following the untimely death of 16 year-old Octavia Leslie, a Grade 10 student who hailed from Deeside in the parish. She was shot and killed coming from a wake in Linstead, St Catherine in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Principal Johnson was in a solemn mood and expressed that it was a similar sentiment throughout the school population. He related that students are asking when this is going to stop, and that the school has to do something about it. However, he points out that no matter how they might try, there is little the school can do when students are in the confines of their families and incidents like these take place.
Information reaching the Western Mirror is that Octavia was at a wake with family members and was set to attend a funeral the following day. However, things turned deadly for her when she was gunned down along with a man who seemed to have been the target of the attack. Larude Hartley, who is from Linstead, had been incarcerated for murder and had just been released last year from prison.
Principal Johnson described the situation as something he does not want to get used to as they are still rocking from Rose’s murder. He also disclosed that he doesn’t want the students to become immune to these things where they feel it is another day, another situation, another student dying and it is just business as usual. “I do not want the students to get to the point where they forget the sanctity of life. I want them to understand that life is sacred and we have to treat it as such,” he lamented.
He further points out that the school will now have to attend three funerals as the young lady, 18-year old Shanae Grant, who took her own life on April 25, was a past student of the institution. “She had graduated last year and had done fairly well in her CSEC exams and was now attending Knocalva Technical High School and to hear this increases the sadness,” he related.
A team from the Victim Services Division was on hand to provide grief counselling to students and staff alike, who were trying to deal with the trauma. Owen Watson, director of the Trelawny office, remarked to have visited so soon after the previous incident was not something they wanted to do. However, they were there to provide the best support possible for the school community and her residence in Deeside.
Octavia was described as a hardworking young lady who knew where she was going. Principal Johnson pointed out that she had spent Friday evening completing an assignment due on Monday because she knew that she would be busy over the weekend.