Monday, November 28, 2011

Famous in a Small Town

It is with a heavy heart that I chose this blog subject today. Not 24 hours ago a young girl lost her life in a car accident. This young girl was a student a Miami East. . . a fellow Viking. Her young age, 15, was enough of a reason to feel devestated and heart broken, but the memories that it brought back, of the pain my family experienced in 2003 for the same reason, was enough to bring me to my knees. Let me begin this post by saying how truly sorry I am to those who knew this young woman and are feeling the devestation with every fiber of their bodies. What I hope this post will bring is a little peace and clarity.

As most of you know my family lost someone in 2003. He was 15 and it was a car accident. It was unbearable pain and still is devestating to this day, but there was one thing that helped my family get through such an incomparable experience; the community we live in.
I went to Miami East from Kindergarten to Senior class of 2006. My dad graduated from Miami East, as did his brother and all three of his sisters. My grandma was a Viking and my grandpy was a part of the first class to graduate as Miami East Vikings. It is safe to say our family is comprised of Viking alumni.

When you go to a school that is small like Miami East, you typically live in a community that is small, tight knit, and where everyone knows everyone, and if you don't know one person, you're sure to know their relation. Small towns like Miami East are all about football Fridays, county fairs, and supporting everyone around you.

When Nick and Zach passed away, I think what was almost as surprising as the fact that the world does not stop spinning when you lose someone you love, is that people you don't even really know, on a personal basis, come out of nowhere with plates of food, flowers to brighten your rooms, and hugs to warm your heart. In a community such as Miami East, the day after an accident will result in classroom time being spent talking about your favorite memories of those who you've lost, gymnasiums being turned into rooms for counsel, if you so choose, and hallways become a sort of dance floor in which students are embracing each other for long moments, friends are saying "I love you" as if it's their last words, and teachers become a part of the student body. Because in a small community like Miami East everyone is touched by a tragedy. . . whether the life lost was your best friend, your boyfriend/girlfriend, or just someone you smiled at occasionally. . . if you aren't in school when someone is taken, then you likely know their parents or grandparents, you may have baby sat them when they still needed help going potty, you could very well have screamed their name out loud at the last football game, but the bottom line is. . . each life within this small community is effected.

I didn't know the young woman who was taken too soon and I don't know the young man who is in the hospital right now, but I know what their friends are feelings, I know how their family gatherings will be altered, I know that school hallways will never look, feel, or smell the same ever again. But we are Vikings. We are strong and we have each other.

In a world when tomorrow has never been guaranteed, I hope that we can each take comfort in the fact that we come from a community that was built on strength, we come from a community that supports us in our endeavors, we come from a community that will stand together in a time of crisis, hold each other up in times of despair, and pull from one another the strength to make it through tonight, wake up tomorrow, and face the day.

January 24th will never be the same for me, just like November 27th will never be the same for the families and friends of Christen and Josh. But they will always be remembered, forever be loved, and eternally be Vikings.

In a community like Miami East, everyone is famous in this small town.

Tell the ones you love that you love them, hug your people every chance you get, and always. . . keep your face to the sunshine.

-Stephi D.


  1. this needs to be put in the newspaper

  2. @MorksHermoine: I dont know who you are.. :( who are you? lol

    @Em: thank you. you're very kind.

  3. This is a beautifully written piece. I will never forget the day when we heard about your brother and Zach. My sister fell apart, and it took a long time to put the pieces back together.

    It seems as if Miami East has had a rough go lately. There have been so many deaths lately of young people, it almost seems completely unfair.

    As for Miami East and any small community it is nice you can count on your neighbors, friends, family and anyone else to be there to help you pick the pieces until you feel better. that is why i chose to raise my kids in a small community similar to miami east.

    This is a beautiful written piece. I agree with the others, this is worthy of being put in print in a paper. (this is Stasi Spilizewski-Coffey, sister to Nicki and Rachel Spilizewski)

  4. Stasi, thank you for your kind words. Nick was my cousin, though. Jenna was his sister. i just wanted to clarify :) thank you for reading.

  5. WOW! Amazing words!
    Russ Welker
    Miami East 1991

  6. Stephi, Thank you. Beautifully written. I don't want to speak for Lisa, Josh's mom, however I know for certain that she and her family takes comfort in this community and feel extremely blessed to be among friends and family during this excruciating time in their lives. I do not know Christen's parents but I am sure they feel the love that surrounds them. Christen is a friend of my sophomore student and I know how devastated he is and how the school has become closer because of this tragedy. No one ever wants this to happen to their community, but thank God that we have the community that we have, the type of community that can survive past, present, and future tragedies and still preserve the sweet spirit that engulfs us when tragedy does strike.
    Dawn Sales-Miami East Bus Driver
    89 Bethel Grad-Married into Viking Country

  7. Beautifully written! I am a fellow Viking Alumni (class of 87), I have lived in Viking country all my life. Although I did not know Nick or Zach, I do remember the accident that took their lives way too soon. I did not know Christine either and my heart is again heavy for a fellow Viking family. I pray everyday that God will keep my kids safe and that I will be saved from ever experiencing a tragedy like this. The community we live in is like no other, we embrace the community with open arms and support each other when needed. I hope and pray that Josh and Christine's families are receiving the support they need from family and friends in our small town.


  8. Thank you all for your kindness and for taking the time to read this blog.. I'm pleased this has reached so many readers.

  9. Breathtaking. Love ya girl! !! Every bit of this is so true.

  10. ......beautifully said.....thank you!

  11. I agree, this should be in the newspaper. BEautifully written. My daughters were also friends with christen and josh and I thank God that we do have this wonderful community to live in. The kids have been tremendous in supporting one another through this terrible tragedy.

  12. What a great blog. Truly inspirational. What every community should aspire to be.

    Brandon King (Class of 2006)