Teens killed in car accident are remembered by students, teachers

By Lynn R. Parks

Wednesday morning, Dec. 16, was a rough time for teacher Trina Giles and the students in her Jobs for Delaware Graduates class at Laurel High School. Not even 24 hours earlier, William Nazelrod, a student in Giles' class, had been killed in a car accident. And those who had known him were struggling with their grief. "It was very difficult," said Giles, who had taught at Laurel High for seven years, three of which William was in her class. "We cried." That morning, Giles wrote a poem. "I wrote it to get myself together," she said. "And I wrote it for the students, to let them know that they are not by themselves and that we are going to get through this together."

She wrote: Remember the laughs, the fights, and the love, We all had our different relationships with William There were words said and unsaid Now he is watching us Seeing the impact he has on our life

Another sad classroom The night before, Patti Keeton, an English teacher at the James H. Groves School in Georgetown, had also had a rough time. She had had to tell her students that one of their classmates, Gregory Williams, was dead. Williams, 17, was a front-seat passenger in the car that Nazelrod, 16, was driving Tuesday morning, Dec. 15, and that ran off the road and struck a tree. Police blame a rain-slicked road and excessive speed for the crash. Terri Corder, principal at the Groves School, said that because students can enroll in the alternative-education school at any time, Greg's classmates in the evening classes he attended twice a week did not know him as well as William's classmates knew him. But when Keeton told them about Greg's death, their response was uniform. "They all asked, 'You mean that really nice guy?'" Corder said. "Greg was nice, kind and polite to everyone," Keeton said. "He was willing to help everyone with anything they needed." Corder said that Greg, who transferred from Laurel High School to Groves in March, had just completed the credits he needed for senior English. His final average in that class was 95. His goal was to become an emergency medical technician. "He was a good person, hard working and dedicated," Corder said. "And a bright young man. Most of our students have suffered some kind of setback that caused them to withdraw from their regular schools and come here. So we call this the 'school of second chances.' Greg certainly recognized that opportunity and was doing excellently."

'Liked by many' Laurel High School teacher Giles said that Nazelrod, whom she had taught for three years, was an active participant in class.

"He was funny and had a lot of friends," she said. "He was a hard-working kid and was liked by many," added principal Dean Ivory. Ivory said that counselors as well as ministers from the community were available Wednesday to talk with students. Two pastors with the Laurel Church of the Nazarene, Larry Whaley and Ralph Fraser, met with the members of the football team, for which Nazelrod was starting center. "We kind of gave up the morning, to give the kids time to grieve," Ivory said. On Wednesday afternoon, the school moved back into its regular routine, which in its way was as helpful as counseling, Dean said. As part of their grieving process, students have written letters, messages and poems and left them on poster boards set up in the school's main hallway. Agri-science teacher Karen Parrott made a wreath to decorate the memorial boards. "Now it is time for us to support each other, And move forward," Giles wrote in her poem. "Remember we all are family."

Memories and lessons learned Ivory said that it is difficult to answer teenagers' questions in the face of death. On Wednesday, he told them that following Nazelrod's death, the people who knew him now have a responsibility. "We were allowed to share his life, and now that he is gone, what can we do to celebrate him?" he said. He also told them that Nazelrod's death did not rob their memories. "I told the kids that they can close their eyes and still see him smile," he said. "After I said that, I could see the result immediately. They started to think about him and the time that they had spent together, and then they started to laugh and talk about how he was." Ivory told students that Nazelrod's death in a car accident carries with it lessons. "We didn't dwell on it, but we talked about the fact that life is about choices and about doing the right thing," he said. "We told them that they shouldn't take life for granted, and that when they are in a vehicle, they should use such caution. One bump in the road, rain, or another driver making a mistake and in the blink of an eye, it can all be over. "I asked them to think about what they are doing today to make sure that people around them know that they care about them. And I told them that I think about that every day: If something happens and my life ends tomorrow, what will I have left my own children and the kids at Laurel High School so they know that Mr. Ivory cared about them?" Whaley, the pastor with the Laurel Church of the Nazarene, said that even though he and Fraser went to the school to help the students, they really didn't see the need to talk with any of them. "The school administration and the teachers at Laurel High School are so wonderful and were doing such a wonderful job with these kids, it blew me away," Whaley said. "Things were totally under control and they were there for the kids. "It was so inspiring to see such competence in the teachers and the administration. They did a wonderful job."

News tips wanted
Call us with ideas for news and features. We're always looking for good stories to share with readers. Call Bryant Richardson at 629-9788.