By JILLIAN ELSNER
Bristol Eastern High School honored the memory of freshman, Gabrielle “Gabby” LaChance with a tree planting ceremony in the courtyard May 24 to honor the late teen.
The ceremony was a means of providing comfort to her classmates—a reminder that their friend would live on in memory, and be there in spirit as they continued on their path to adulthood.
The tree, a red maple, was planted in the presence of close friends of Gabby’s.
LaChance, who suffered from a plethora of health problems, was remembered by the BEHS community for her cheerful outlook on life and friendly demeanor despite her struggles.
Her teachers remembered her as an incredibly hard worker, eager to learn, and responsible, who enjoyed being in school—a rare find in American high school students.
“(LaChance) was an excellent student. She was very intelligent, and did her best, even though her health issues forced her to miss school and constantly set her back a little. She told me a little while before she died that she had to have a surgery, but she was trying to schedule it for June so she wouldn’t have to miss school,” said William Kelly, an arithmetic teacher. “She was always the first back from lunch period, and she always just had the happiest air about her that a kid in math class could have.”
Kelly said it’s still painful, even six months following LaChance’s passing, to see that her seat is empty.
Her friends shared this sentiment.
“She was so passionate about everything she talked about, and she was talkative, but she was just so interesting and fun and happy.” Ava LeBlanc, a student and friend of LaChance, said. “I’ve thought about her every single day since she’s been gone, and sometimes when I get sad over stupid things, I remember her, and I think to myself, ‘I should be grateful I have this moment.’”
LeBlanc said LaChance’s mere existence was inspirational. Despite LaChance heart problems and illnesses, and despite the short life expectancy doctors had of her, she still found moments in which to smile. Despite any struggles she might have had socially, from dealing with unnecessary drama to disrespectful individuals that made her feel bad, she still prevailed. Despite her illness, she still traveled far and long, until she found herself slipping away into her eternal slumber.