Wichita teacher reflects on death of student: ‘He’s kind of watching over us’

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Teachers and students at Mead Middle School remembered a classmate during a celebration on Thursday.

While some kids zoomed by in go-karts, other students played a game of bowling. It was all part of Mead Middle School’s end of the year party to honor a group of students who had the fewest tardies and absences.

“It was trying hard not to get in trouble, trying hard to do good in school and it really helped you a lot,” said one student.

The 6th and 7th grade students invited to the celebration were all on the school’s Purple Pumas Team. In years past, the Purple Pumas did not score well in tardies and absences. In fact, this was the first school year the team beat out the other three teams. However, students and staff said they don’t believe the team’s win was a coincidence.

“This year, the Pumas won almost every competitions for both the 6th and 7th grades so we are thinking Devon kind of had something to do with it. He’s kind of watching over us,” said teacher Sarah Rosales.

Devon Cooley was on the Purple Pumas Team during his 6th grade year at Mead Middle School. Devon would have been on the team during his 7th grade year had he not drowned in a Wichita creek in the summer of 2016.

“I feel like there is always going to be a piece of my heart that is going to miss him,” said student Saskia Garcia.

However, the celebration wasn’t about dwelling on the loss of Devon. Instead, staff said it was about remembering Devon and what he has brought and he continues to bring to the team.

“It’s bitter-sweet because I know he would love this, especially like the go-karts and the video games and stuff like that, but we kind of honor him by being here and by doing this,” Rosales said.

“He would love it. He would congratulate everybody and tell them you all did a good job,” said another student.

One of Devon’s younger brothers is a 6th grader at Mead Middle School. He is on the Purple Pumas Team and was also part of the celebration.

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