By Natalie Allen and Amber Bartley
Silence fills the stands as students think about and pay a short tribute to a late classmate.
On May 31 of this year, 17-year-old Chase Brannon passed away. The FC community came together at the Columbus East game this past Friday, Sept. 26 to memorialize the tragic death of this young man.
“Well, I know Chase loved the Columbus East game and would be one of the main supporters standing in the front cheering on his friends. Remembering him for this game makes it seem like he’s not really gone, and in general Chase was looking forward to finishing senior year with a bang and making memories with all of his friends and family,” said senior Austen Jones.
Principal Janie Whaley also said that the tribute brought the class closer and that Brannon had a tremendous impact on fellow students.
“I thought it was good for the class to come together and honor him. It’s another chapter in his story and Chase touched a lot of people. He was not a kid that was just with one group only. For that reason, it really hit the school hard because he touched so many people,” said Whaley.
Students and faculty members expected and great turnout and with no surprise received it from combining homecoming and honoring Brannon.
“It was great to see this much support for someone who made such a difference in the lives of FC students,” said Jones.
Senior Chase Blakeman also had high hopes for an immense amount of people to show up.
“I feel like the students liked the idea of honoring him at this game. I saw it as a way to bring the school together in memorial of a good guy,” said Blakeman.
Students were also very pleased that the student body and administration created this game as a tribute to Brannon.
“I think the entire student body and everyone who knew Chase was thrilled that FC chose to honor Chase at the football game,” said senior Gabby Gibson.
Blakeman expressed how Brannon had touched a number of people with his personality.
“The significance of honoring Chase was honoring the awesome person he was, how he brightened people’s days with his sarcasm and witty jokes and the good times people shared with him,” said Blakeman.
However, honoring Brannon at the game was not the only way FC decided to revere him. Seniors Ben Banet and Collin Sharp proposed that the school should plant a tree in his memory.
“Me and Ben Banet went into Mrs. Whaley’s office on the last day of school and talked to her about it,” said Sharp.
Business teacher Chris Street noticed the way students gathered together to get through a tough time when a fellow classmate passes.
“It’s confusing for a teenager to deal with the loss of someone. For some people, this is the first time that they have lost a classmate or a close friend or a relative in some cases. For the students, I think it’s a way for them to feel that contribution, but they’re doing a lot of things besides the t-shirts. For every t-shirt we sell, a donation is going to go to his scholarship fund. We’re also taking donations for a plaque to put with a tree that we’re going to plant outside. These are all student ideas,” said Street.
Street added that the students and faculty are looking for good outcomes to a saddening situation.
“They want to be sure that he is remembered. Out of tragedy, you learn to try to find something positive and try to do something positive out of it. All around, we’re seeing kids rise up and do good things in light of a negative situation,” said Street.
Overall, students, faculty members and administrators are truly commemorating Brannon, respecting and remembering him in anyway possible.
“When you lose someone special, especially so young, it seems impossible to find a gesture that is significant enough to honor them. Chase was such an awesome person. Remembering him is something we will do for the rest of our lives. Little pieces of the past will remind us of Chase, always smiling and laughing, and his legacy will stay alive through memories of all the good times,” said Gibson.