Written by Phil Cerroni
By Jess Paniszczyn
A heaviness weighs on the students, families and teachers across the Irving ISD as they mourn the loss of three students. Diana (13), Maria del Refugio (12) and Jesus (6) Gonzalez died from injuries they received as a result of a car accident on Jan. 27. Their sister Maria de Jesus Gonzalez (10) remains hospitalized.
Not long ago, Diana and Maria roamed the halls of Lamar Middle School like other young teens, laughing and talking with friends. Among their peers, many of whom have never known someone their age who died, the girls’ absence is disturbing.
After school on Jan. 30, students gathered around the flag poles outside Lamar to memorialize the deceased siblings and hold vigil for Maria de Jesus. The middle schoolers invited Jesus’ and young Maria’s classmates from Brown elementary to join them. Amid tears and hugs, students expressed their feelings through prayers, songs, art, letters, flowers and a menagerie of stuffed animals.
“We remember both girls as always smiling and having the biggest hearts for their friends,” said Abby Hernandez, the Lamar student council president. “They will be missed by all of us.”
“We care deeply about the girls – Diana, Maria and the family,” Lamar principal Joe Moreno said. “We wanted to do something to show support, respect and honor the girls in a special way that most of the student body could take part in. We also wanted to help and support the kids in their grieving, come together as a community and say goodbye. I think it was important for the kids.
“We all grieve in different times and in different ways. As adults, we don’t understand death, and it is difficult for us to get a good grasp on it. It is that much more difficult for our kids. The school has been pretty solemn. A lot of the kids have been pretty quiet. I think it has been thought provoking, particularly for the upper grades. It has been difficult.
“We have had an amazing amount of support for the family from the community. I have received an enormous amount of calls from different people in the community who are willing to help out.”
If you would like to help the Gonzalez family, donations to the Diana, Maria, Jesus Gonzalez Memorial Fund Account #9920146298 can be made at any Wells Fargo Bank.