Pascagoula students grieving the loss of two classmates - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Pascagoula students grieving the loss of two classmates

Brandon Rich and Caleb Sweeten were both players on the school's championship football team. Brandon Rich and Caleb Sweeten were both players on the school's championship football team.
A memorial service is planned for Wednesday night at 6pm at the Pascagoula High School gym. A memorial service is planned for Wednesday night at 6pm at the Pascagoula High School gym.
PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) -

You could see it on the faces of students at Pascagoula High School Monday morning: Pain some have never felt before. Hugs were a common sight as the high school students tried to make sense of the tragedy that took the life of Caleb Sweeten and Brandon Rich.

"These are young men who have been a part in the shift of our culture with excellence in athletics and they were a huge part of it," Pascagoula Schools Superintendent Wayne Rodolfich said. "They are just a very vital part of this community."

Both were football players on a championship team, a team that brought the school together, only to see it torn apart by this tragedy. Helping the students cope with the loss is a top priority.  

"People are going to grieve very differently," explained grief counselor Melissa Windham. "We're going to see some students who knew these students very well, some that are just coming in today and finding out what's happening. So you have to give them a different place and a different freedom to grieve, whether that be crying or just sitting alone."

Alone with their thoughts and a new appreciation for life's precious moments, according to Rodolfich.
"It also puts things into perspective as to what's important. And right now, the most important thing for our young people is to try and figure out why this happened," Rodolfich said.   

Football coaches are usually challenged with leading their teams to victory. But facing a challenge like the loss of players is the greatest they'll ever have.

"As a coach, one of the things you always learn is that these young men, they'll doing anything as long as you love them and care about them, not just as football players, but as people," Head Football Coach Lewis Sims said.

That love and care was on display for all to see Monday in the halls of Pascagoula High.

A memorial service is planned for Wednesday night at 6pm at the Pascagoula High School gym.

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