(Brooke Dexter, an 11-year-old sixth grader at Chugach Optional Elementary, wrote a journal-style essay about her feelings on the suicide of a former Chugach student and friend of her older sisters, Katrina Bryant. This excerpt describes an evening memorial service held at the school.)
I have a good time that night. Emily and I mostly play in the gym. That kind of makes me mad at myself. "This is not a time for play, you should be mourning!" It doesn't make sense but I wish I were sadder. I feel like I am being disrespectful by having fun. Soon the war with myself is disrupted, because they are setting the lanterns! Everyone stands outside in the cold setting off floating lanterns like the ones in 'Tangled.' They are magnificent. I expect more people to be sad, but mostly all I see is smiling faces, knowing that she is safe up there looking down on us.
Watching the lanterns rise up until they are just dots by the moon is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. I know I will remember this night forever. Emily and I release one each and one together. Up until now I kind of felt like I didn't belong, but now I know that just being here shows that I care, and that's what everyone needs right now, so I feel better.
Emily and I stand back and watch. Some are heart shaped and red, and others are rectangular and white, and they are all so beautiful. I see some of Katrina's closest friends setting off ones with signatures and messages on them. They really loved her, and now she's gone. I bet she really regrets it, I bet she really does. I would. I cry for the first time now, for so many different reasons I can't even recite them.