Tragedy strikes & people are jerks

I love my students. The students at First Glance are never “clients,” pitty cases, projects or anything of the sort. These students are “my kids.” I love them! I love them all! I love them sincerely and passionately, and if anyone has heard me talk, you know that it’s true. My friends tease me that most of the time. I function emotionally as a five, pretty much all the time. BUT, the exception ALWAYS comes out when it involves First Glance, when it comes to my students. I SEE their potential. I see it all the time! I see it when nobody else can. I see it when they can’t. Each of them are amazing in their own right, and I see it and love them.

The truth is, I don’t know every students as well and as personally as I would like. When 1000 teenagers in a year come through our doors, there’s no way to. This is why we have the amazing volunteer base that we have! They are spectacular, and each one get’s to know different students. Regardless of how well I know them or how long it’s been since I’ve seen them, my heart breaks when tragedy strikes. Sometimes I wonder if they know how much it impacts me or the other FG volunteers.

That happened last weekend. Saturday morning I woke up to the news that one of our students, Xavier, passed away. Here is the news article. Despite having not seen Xavier for a little over a year, he was a big part of FG several years ago.  So his sudden death wrecked me. Part of the situation that has been astounding and infuriating is that there have been people who have indicated that in some way he deserved it. Because he had robbed someone prior to dying, it was ok that he died. In fact one person wrote on our wall for his vigil, “One less thug on the street.” Ugh, the infuriation! No matter what decisions he made prior to, he was 17. He was kind and funny and every single volunteer I told of this tragedy mentioned how much they loved him, and then immediately laughed at some story they thought of about him. He was still just a kid. A kid who was loved and cared about by our community and is now gone. I had written this a few weeks ago, and it applies well.  Being in proximity allows us to see the PERSON.

I continue to be grateful for the grace God has shown me time and time again in my own brokenness and sin. I sincerely wish people would extend grace to each other and especially to my students! They are amazing teenagers, whether they know it or not!


  1. Noel, I understand your words and they are close to my heart. I knew Xavier as well. He was one of my students at Kent Middle School. It seems to happen more often than not and breaks my heart when I hear about students who have passed away. I noticed several students in the pictures you posted and know how hard you and everyone at FG are working. I will continue to pray for all of you to touch and save the lives of the students you come in contact with each day. I’m no longer teaching, after 18 years with APS, I resigned this past summer, but will always hold certain students dear to my heart and continue praying for their futures. I don’t think a lot of people realize the situations most of these children face daily. Your doing more for these kids than you will ever know!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. He was friends w my son and I knew him also. I am also very close to one of the boys that is in the county. He is also a kind hearted boy and is like a son to me and best friends w my son. This is a horrible tragedy and I’m glad u spoke out as I have many times when I see people saying horrible things.


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