Tradition holds that students bring apples to their teachers. On Monday at Havelock High School, they brought flowers.
Students created a memorial of flowers, cards and posters to honor former math teacher Amanda Lawrence-Lane, who collapsed at the school Friday and later died. She was 33.
“She was awesome,” junior Amber Beligotti, one of Lawrence-Lane’s students, said as she fought back tears. “She was loving, sweet. She told us don’t put your head down if you don’t get a 100. I struggled (in math) but she helped me a lot.”
She and friend Tracey Poythress found time to visit the memorial, which was placed in the front foyer of the school near the entrance to the cafeteria.
“She helped everybody a lot,” Poythress said of Lawrence-Lane.
Many of the students and staff wore ribbons while others wore purple, Lawrence-Lane’s favorite color. Some students took time to read the notes left at the memorial. Others stood staring, tears rolling down their cheeks, learning a lesson about life and death that’s not in any textbook.
“A lot of students don’t have to deal with death and dying,” Havelock High Principal Jeff Murphy said. “Some have, but for many of them, this is something totally new, so it’s hard for them.”
Murphy said other schools in the area sent extra counselors to Havelock High on Monday to help students and staff with their grieving. A memorial service for students and staff has been scheduled for 7:15 a.m. on Wednesday.
“She was a good person and a good teacher,” Murphy said, calling her quiet with a dry sense of humor. “She cared about her students and taught them well.”
Student Nichole Lay said she never had Lawrence-Lane as a teacher, but that didn’t leave her without a memory.
“I saw her that morning (Friday), and she smiled and waved at me,” Lay said. “I didn’t know her. I’d see her around the halls. It’s crazy to think that she just died so suddenly, and I had just seen her that morning.”
Lay was taking pictures of the memorial for a special dedication page going into the school’s yearbook. She said Lawrence-Lane’s death has left the school in shock.
“It’s very solemn. It’s very reflective,” she said of the mood of students on Monday. “Even people who didn’t know her are coming out and wearing their purple and wearing their ribbons and showing support. Everyone is just pulling together as a school and as a family to try to help each other through this.”
Teacher Jeff Harris, head of the math department, said he arrived at Havelock High one year after Lawrence-Lane started teaching in 2002.
“We spent about 10 years teaching together, so it’s been kind of tough to deal with,” he said.
Harris took over Lawrence-Lane’s classes on Monday.
“We had the opportunity to laugh together and to cry together, and just give the students the opportunity to process it however they felt they needed to process it,” he said.
He said students had the opportunity to write notes in a memory album that will go to Lawrence-Lane’s family.
“She was an awesome person,” Harris said. “She was passionate about her teaching. She loved math. She could get excited about the silliest things. She loved the kids. It was all about helping them to be successful. She thoroughly enjoyed what she did.
“As a math department, we were always a close family, and we always would eat lunch together and we would always laugh together. She’s going to be sorely missed. She was a big part of our family, and it’s going to be tough going in their eating lunch with an empty chair.”
Lawrence-Lane was originally from Lenoir County and graduated from North Lenoir High School. She married her husband, Jeremy Lane, in December and had a stepson, Alex.
Her funeral is scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday at Rouse Funeral Home in La Grange. Visitation is scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the funeral home.
For her complete obituary, click here: http://www.havenews.com/obituaries/amanda-taylor-lawrence-lane-1.116870