A quiet memorial – Two plaques and two perpetually-locked lockers serve to remind Verb of its fallen. Image by Hector Arriata
By Hector Arriata, Editor in Chief
Disclaimer to the reader: this article touches upon sensitive matters of Verb’s history. If readers wish to discuss the named students with a teacher or staff member, please do so in a respectful manner.
Lockers. Almost every school has them, and they are a staple of the high school experience. Verbum Dei High School is no exception. Verbum Dei houses royal blue lockers, and the clanging of their metal doors can be heard all throughout passing periods. However, Verbum Dei also houses two lockers whose significance goes beyond all lockers.
While these two blue lockers may blend into the sea of lockers down the 100 corridor, there is a chance that at some point a student has laid eyes on small gold plaques on two of the lockers.
The gold plaques read the names of students: Nathaniel Mota (Class of 2014) and Eduardo Ceron (Class of 2007). Along with the name, the plaques also read, “Nathaniel, forever a Verbum Dei brother” and “You live on in our hearts, Eddie.” These lockers are the retired lockers of students who passed away during their tenure at Verbum Dei; the school placed the plaques and permanently locked them.
“As I recall, it was for students that passed away while they were going through school here,” said Vice President of Operation Jeff Bonino-Britsch. “It was such a kind of shock that someone so young had passed. We wanted to acknowledge them, especially as they’re going towards graduation…We want that familiarity with all the guys that their classmate goes all the way through graduation with them.”
While the school has not experienced the loss of another active student since Mota, last year, Verbum Dei High School received the tragic news of the deaths of recent alumni: Chris (Class of 2010) and Jonathan Baxter (Class of 2012), also known as the “Baxter Boys,” and Anthony Thompson (Class of 2011).
Thus, this raises the question of whether or not these alumni, who graduated from recent classes, will have their lockers retired.
“They graduated; they made it all the way through, so it doesn’t mean we wouldn’t do that, but I don’t think so,” said Bonino-Britsch. “If you keep doing that, sooner or later you’re gonna run out of lockers: Class of ’66 passed. Who knows what their lockers were, right. But [students who died during the school year], because it’s somebody right at this time, you know exactly where their locker is, and it becomes sort of a temple – kind of a reminder that he is a part of us all the way.”
While all deceased alumni will not have their lockers retired, Verbum Dei will continue to honor the current two retired lockers.
“The tradition has been, and continues in perpetuity,” said Bonino-Britsch. “But at some point, we’ll probably have to replace lockers and, at that point, that may change.”
In any case, the retired lockers of Verbum Dei are something that must be respected on campus as they represent a moments in history frozen in time.