CLIFTON PARK, N.Y - The grief at Shenendehowa High School was palpable Monday, as students walked along a line of tables set up in the school auditorium. On those tables were memories, gifts and expressions of sorrow at the loss of two of the school's brightest stars.
Students are still in shock as they take in the magnitude of what happened Saturday night when two of their fellow students were killed during an accident on the Northway, while a third Shen. student, Matthew Hardy, was hospitalized along with Shaker student Bailey Wind.
A memorial, which at first was spread out in the garden area behind the school, became so large it had to be moved into the auditorium.
Students and faculty remembered Chris Stewart and Deanna Rivers as good kids. Deanna loved playing softball for Shen., while Chris loved football.
Superintendent Oliver Robinson feels this loss deeply. His son played football with Chris and Robinson says he met Deanna for the first time on Friday - Saturday she was dead.
But Shen. wasn't the only school touched by this tragedy. It was a day of mourning inside the halls of Shaker High School as well. Students sported green clothes to support their friends at Shen.
Shaker senior, David Morrison, thought of the last time he saw his friend Christopher Stewart.
"You say to yourself I just saw him eight hours ago. It is just hard to wrap your head around," said Morrison.
Shaker Principal Richard Murphy said, "Everybody knows each other. It's not North Colonie vs Shen. It's two communities that are intertwined in many ways."
Morrison also knew Bailey Wind, a student at Shaker who was dating Stewart.
"The relationship they shared was very special. It's a shame it had to come to an end the way it did," said Morrison.
Wind received serious injuries after Saturday night's crash.
Tragedy like this can seem incomprehensible when you're a teen, but there are some ways parents can help their children cope with something so devastating.
Psychologist Dr. Frank Doberman has counseled his share of young people touched by tragedy. He says it's not about finding the right "words" to say to the young friends Chris Stewart and Deanna Rivers left behind.
Doberman says the longer you live, the more tragedy you've likely experienced, and that's why parents should remain open and available to their children - so they'll know they're not alone.
No matter what words are said though, this remains a tragic time, and an opportunity for parents to hold their kids just a little tighter and tell them how just much they're loved.
Please note that a candlelight vigil will be held at Shenendehowa's High School Athletic Stadium Tuesday at 7:15.
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