I picked up the Tribune today and read the tragedy that took place October 25th 1995—- the Fox River Grove train accident. I was an English teacher at Cary-Grove High School. That day I had a substitute because we were putting on the play, THE HOBBIT. It was going to be a day time play for Senior Citizens. The official opening for the public would be that coming Friday.
But then I heard about the train accident. I immediately went to the office to see how I could help concerned parents connect with their children. It was a day of heavy grief and much prayer.
I found out that two of my students had died in the crash and one was seriously injured. Stephanie Fulham was a student in my class and had a small part in the school play. I went to her funeral and gave her parents the Hobbit costume she would have worn. I remember her as a sweet, blonde-haired, petite student. We all loved her.
Susana Guzman was in my speech class. She had just given a wonderful speech on her hero, Selena, a Mexican singer who had been killed. Susana was also petite with long curly brown hair and a beautiful smile.
I talked to the mother of one of my students. Her son was in my class and we were having a test that day. He told his mother to pray for him because he was going to have a test in my class that day. Little did he know the test he would have to endure—–healing and recuperating from a train accident. His twin brother was also injured.
We must have had 70 counselors in the Media Center that week, but most students chose to stay in their classrooms. There was no separation between school and God. We provided poster boards for the students and they wrote out their prayers and messages for the families. Literature took on new meaning.
The foyer of the school’s front lobby was filled with flowers from as far away as Japan. We were a grieving school for a long time. We had a special ceremony where we learned about the building of the Friendship Circle. Seven white doves were let go to symbolize the passing of seven students. There has always been something special about Cary-Grove High School. We experienced deep pain and we understood grief. There was a closeness and a caring for students that I have not seen elsewhere. We rescheduled the play, THE HOBBIT, for December and dedicated it to Stephanie Fulham.