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‘Long Live Chassidy’

Warren G. Harding students remember Jan 19. fire victim

WARREN — The Warren G. Harding High School hallways filled Thursday with nearly 1,000 students walking in solidarity, commemorating the short life of 16-year-old Chassidy Broadstone.

She died in a house fire at home on the corner of Nevada Avenue and McMyler Street NW. It was in flames when firefighters arrived shortly before 2 a.m. Jan. 19. Authorities are investigating the case as arson and homicide.

Friends carrying a banner reading “Long Live Chassidy” made by members of the Student Success Program, of which the WGH junior was a member, led the students down the hallway.

Principal Sandra Williams said students have many questions following their friend’s death.

“The mood around the building has been very somber. The students are really internalizing this tragedy,” Williams said.

“Chassidy, she was one of those ones who smiled all the time, who laughed all the time, and who really pretty much kept everything together in our Student Success program. So a lot of the students, that’s how they remember her. This is such a shock to them that something like this would happen to her.”

Some students stayed strong during the walk, but the moment overcame others who cried during the somber walk through the school.

The students had been preparing the banner for days.

Green, Chassidy’s favorite color, adorned the signs and clothing of many.

Senior Lauri Baker recalled almost being late on a daily basis as she and Chassidy made time to talk between class and lunch periods.

“I’ve known her since we were freshmen — she’s always been my best friend,” Lauri said.

Lauri remembers Chassidy as someone who kept to herself. Still, “every time she walked into a room … she would light up the room with just her laugh and her humor.”

Lauri doesn’t know where the nickname ‘Chunky’ came from. But it adorned signs proclaiming, “Chunky RIP,” and “Long Live Chunky.”

The nickname is fitting because Chassidy could always be seen eating, Lauri said — her snack of choice was candy.

Lauri was in second class period the day the news broke. An uncharacteristic call to the office left her feeling uneasy. That’s when her mother told of her friend’s death.

“I just broke down in tears. I couldn’t even stay the whole day,” she said “I had to go home because anywhere I went it reminded me of her.”

School-based therapist Sarah Lat has seen many students enter her office in the aftermath. The general consensus about Chassidy, Lat said, is that, “she was there for everyone. She was amazing.”

“Even the kids that didn’t really know her that well, she left a big impact on them,” Lat said.

The school has since used grief rooms to give students the chance to speak with counselors, and sometimes students have the opportunity to grieve alongside one another.

“I stepped into one of our group sessions and they were in there telling Chassidy stories. And they were laughing because they were just thinking about the things that she said, things that she’s done, and they made it such a positive interaction with one another in the grief room,” Williams said.

These rooms are set up all throughout the building on each floor, so that students don’t have to be far from their classrooms. Williams said they’re also offering staff members opportunities to speak to counselors.

“You never know when it’s gonna be the last time you see someone,” Williams said. “But we also want them to know how important they are to us. And so when we take time out of our day, to make sure that we honor the life of one of our students, then they have a better chance of understanding this is what we should do.”

Williams continued: “We’ve got to sometimes teach compassion, we have to teach empathy and we have to teach sympathy. So that is one of our lessons that we are teaching today. Not only are we honoring Chassidy, her life, but we’re also teaching lessons and helping our students realize that this is part of life.”

Roger Broadstone, father of Chassidy, said two of her hospitalized sisters are recovering. The oldest sister, 20, was released and the other, 18, is in stable condition.

The Salvation Army in Warren said it is raising money for funeral and medical expenses, noting Chassidy and her sister had been attending church services there for many years. Donations will be accepted at the Salvation Army, 270 Franklin St. SE., Warren. A funeral service for Chassidy will take place there at 2 p.m. Saturday.

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