Somber Memorial For Rich And Rhodes
It was saddening to look up at their young faces projected on the screen, and to know they were gone.
John Rich, 16, and Jonathan Rhodes, 17, who were killed in separate incidents in November, were memorialized at Beach Channel High School last Friday. More than 100 family members, friends, teachers and faculty gathered in the school’s auditorium to share their memories condolences, and to dance and sing.
Perhaps the most poignant moments of the hour-long ceremony were when various images, shared by the young men’s families, flashed across the presentation screen. There was one of Rich, as a toddler, sitting with his young brothers. His "Cheeks" – the defining feature that became his nickname – noticeable even then.
And there was one of Rhodes playing around with another youngster in the snow. He looked like he was going to playfully bear-hug the person behind the camera – his arms outstretched and his smile wide, snow sticking to his clothes. Two others, taken more recently, showed him standing cross-armed, flexing his biceps.
There was a picture of Rich dressed in white for his communion and another of him in black for another special occasion.
The images stirred emotions as each picture reminded everyone just how young Rich and Rhodes were.
Several young girls, who were friends of Rich and Rhodes, stood at the front of the auditorium. They condoled the families, read poems and sang. They leaned on one another for support when they could not hold back tears.
And there was a dance routine. Young girls, dressed in black, wore white gloves that made their hands look like doves as they moved them in the air to the lyrics "I need you to survive…I need you to survive."
The memorial, which was coordinated by Assistant Principal Regine Lifranc, was interspersed with music by the B.C.H.S. Gospel Choir, directed by R. Kornegay.