Friday, January 26, 2007
Students turn to web for answers, consolation
What do you do to come to grips with a tragedy? How do you vent emotions and express grief and condolences? In the aftermath of the stabbing at Lincoln-Sudbury High School (L-S), for many students the answer was to "gather" at one of several Facebook (an online social networking site) "groups" set up in honor of the victim, James Alenson. The most popular, "R.I.P. James Alenson," described as "for anyone who knew, has seen or generally feels sorry for James," was begun by L-S students the afternoon of the murder, and has since grown to over 3,000 members.
The first postings appeared at the site around 1:30 p.m. L-S students shared what they had heard through various news sources, eyewitness accounts and rumor mills. Many relied on the group for information on who the two students were. "What I hate is that the teachers never to this moment told us what happened," said one. "I found out using my laptop..."
Students from other schools, including Concord-Carlisle High School, soon joined in, offering information and condolences. At 2:33 p.m. a contributor wrote, "I'm from CCHS, and i didn't know him, but our principal announced it and my sympathies go out." Another posted, "RIP james, you are in the hearts of everyone at CCHS."
The tone of the entries was generally mournful rather than angry. A very few students who vented were squelched by those counseling understanding. Said one student on the R.I.P. JAMES ALENSON, a page started at Natick High School (Alenson had recently moved from Natick), "We are here to celebrate his life, not talk trash about his killer." Other entries shared memories of the victim, speculated on why the tragedy happened, and examined the media response, including the greater interest in the murder of a suburban teen than in those of poor teens in the city.
Over 800 messages had been posted to the L-S group as of Tuesday, from local students and those at schools throughout the area. "I really appreciate seeing everyone from different schools posting on this group," read one entry from a L-S student. "it really gives u and ur school a good name. May James rest in peace."
Said another, "This is a very emotionally charged incident and the group gives people an outlet for their emotions. Yes, this group is in memory of James, but really, it's not for James, it's for us."
Some other postings from L-S
"I wouldn't expect a lot of people to know him but he sat behind me in English class and he was a really quiet but really nice kid."
"It is so shocking to see "High School Murder" written accross a picture of my school on Fox 25 News."
"i sat next to him in history class. and he was the nicest kid you've ever met. he never said much, but he would never say anything to hurt anyones feelings. he was just this smart, nice kid trying to make friends in a new school."
"I realize that I probably saw you so many times carrying your trumpet through the halls of LS, or waiting outside the band room between blocks 4 and 7. And I would have thought something along the lines of, 'A musician! How awesome,' and you would have made me smile."
"I mourn for James and grieve for Jack."
Note: the misspellings are intentional and reflect the entries as posted.
© 2007 The