Friday- 1,400 students gathered to see senior Lexy Haynes’ funeral in the Brady Auditorium.
Lexy is very much alive and well, but for the couple of days that week she was presumed dead, students faculty friends and family mourned her loss as if it were real.
Not that playing dead was a walk in the park.
“Mr. Davidson was in charge of that decision,” Haynes said. “There was a method to the madness! He chose us specifically for certain parts so we could each experience different things and what he thought would help us in our life journey. Being pulled out in the hallway during class to be told you’re going to be the dead girl and then having to walk back in and act totally normal knowing I would be playing dead within the next few days… I was already shaken up by then. For the first ceremony, all of us shattered dreams kids were. Originally, it was just going to be us and a few teachers but once they all saw how effected we all were, not to mention I was terrified, they let us all stay behind the curtain and listen.”
Dr. Rolla Bradley believed the funeral held more weight than the accident, though the accident was the most talked and tweeted about spectacle of Shattered Dreams.
“Even though it’s a mock event, most people will respond as if its real,” Dr. Rolla Bradley said. “The casket holds a lot of weight. [The accident] held a real shock value, the funeral holds a real conversational value. It’s like, Man what if this really happened? What would we do if she really never came back? What do I need to do so that this never happens with my friends?”
Haynes father was busy reviewing his script before the funeral, but her mother was clenching a tissue and fighting back tears before the service started.
“When Dr. Bradley called me and asked me, I did tear up. But I knew how important it was for her. There’s always a possibility of this sort of thing happening, but the coffin up there blew me away because I was waking up at 4:00 in the morning and that was what I kept seeing. She signed up a month and a half ago to do Shattered Dreams. I wasn’t here for the live thing, I didn’t think that was a good idea. I was good last night, but walking in and seeing the casket was a little more than I bargained for. Her father is going to speak, I would be too emotional.”
There was an overnight retreat at a Jewish summer camp in Wimberly for all of the dead victims where they saw a presentation by the Hayes County Alcohol Prevention Group followed by Dr. Bradley showing the dead victims a video of the accident. Mr. Andrew Arnatt, one of the supervisors, felt that the students really benefitted and learned from the retreat.
“We all came to the conclusion that you don’t have to be the one drinking,” Arnatt said. “You can be an innocent victim. Someone else’s stupid mistake can end your life.”
The supervisors and students agreed the most emotional part of the retreat was reading the letters the dead students’ parents wrote and having to write back to them, promising they would be careful.
“Everyone was emotional,” Leah Howell (12) said about the letters. “Everyone was crying and then they had to respond saying ‘Sorry, I promise I won’t put you through that, make you cry or act like you were the one that caused it.’ I know my parents were going crazy.”
The senior service was riddled with falling tears and stifled breathing, but Haynes and the other victims only managed to sit through it once.
PFC sang Coming Home by Sean Combs, her father spoke, and PFC sang An Irish Blessing.
“Lexy is one of my best friends,” Margaret Newton (12) said, who sang the solo in Coming Home as she tried to stop from crying. “I got really teary eyed when he was speaking because I recognized so many of the things he said about her. I had to detach myself from the song, I couldn’t think about it too much or I would have gotten too emotional and wouldn’t be able to get through the song. I know it wasn’t real, I just had to get through it and then I could see my best friend again. The funeral had a good effect, it made it seem more real to have her dad go up and talk about her life. We had the kids at Brandeis show us this could be a reality and its up to students to take it outside of the story and apply it to their life.”
Senior StuCo officers Patty Trevino and Sarah Smith organized Shattered Dreams and were not disappointed with the outcome.
“I think the funeral went really well,” Trevino said. “The speakers really connected Lexy’s accident with the students and how they could prevent it. I think [Shattered Dreams] hits closer to home than [Drivers Ed Warnings]. It felt real.”
The funeral was for the students benefit, but Haynes’ description of her funeral wasn’t anything short of heart wrenching.
“It was awful in the most beautiful way possible,” Haynes said. “Walking in and seeing my own casket, friends crying, listening to my own best friend, Margaret Newton, sing and listening to my what my dad had to say was almost torture. But there was so much love in that auditorium that it couldn’t be anything less than beautiful.”
Whether students took the funeral seriously or not, whether they choose to be safe drivers or not, whether they care at all, the funeral will be a memorable school event for years to come.