Two distinct sounds murmured across La Cañada High School Saturday night: sniffles and squeaking brakes.
A day after a student jumped or fell to his death from the third story of a campus building, hundreds of his schoolmates held candles and wreathed flowers around the concrete sign that bears the Spartans name. There, they gathered in a circle. Some held hands, some buried their heads. No one spoke; the teens' congested breaths stated their grief.
One by one, parents pulled their cars to a hault, and let their kids out at the curb, a carpool line of mourning.
"The kids did this,'' said La Cañada Unified School District Superintendent Wendy Sinnette, noting that the school did not organize the memorial. Still, LCHS choral singers broke the evening's silence with a stirring, impromptu performance as the community circle grew wider.
Although Friday's tragedy occurred just before 4 p.m., when many students were still on campus, and some allegedly witnessed the death, neither school administrators nor law enforcement have officially released the decedent's name. And while officials have ruled out foul play, with initial police reports indicating an apparent suicide, the circumstances leading to his death have not been determined.
Students took their grief to the Twittersphere Friday and Saturday, many expressing shock that the boy's death came one year after Drew Ferraro, a student at nearby Crescenta Valley High School, lept to his death from atop a campus building. You may read those Tweets here.
'Before I Die...'
A vintage typewriter sat in front of the Spartans sign, amid the roses, lillies and carnations, a bag of Reese's Miniature Peanut Butter cups and a box of Girl Scout cookies. The girl who placed the typewriter pecked one message, the La Cañada Valley Sun reported: “This is for Campbell. Write things about him that you remember.”
The deceased student, whom students have said is Campbell Taylor, had written for the school's newspaper, The La Cañada Spartan.
The website's top article, written by student Christine Lee and posted Friday, the same day the teen died, is titled "Before I Die I Want to _____.'' The name stems from a project created by Candy Chang, a New Orleans artist who turned an abandoned house into a giant chalkboard where people respond with what they hope to accomplish in life.
An excerpt from Lee's piece:
"I think about my death sometimes. It is not a very pleasant thought, but I want to have lived a life that was not regrettable and to have achieved my goals. Most people have dreams which they want to achieve, and whether those dreams might seem unrealistic or just plain silly from an outside perspective, it is important to understand how precious each of them is.''
Saturday night, as candle flames fell beneath the aluminum foil, students set down their cups and picked up a marker. They waited in line to ink thoughts and condolences onto bulletin board paper taped to a nearby wall.
An hour later, they were still writing.
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story misidentified the place from which the student jumped or fell. It was the third story of the 7/8 (middle school) building. Patch apologizes for the error.
Students Mourn Death of a La Cañada Teen
Video: a Cañada High School Suffers 'A Completely Saddening and Horribly Devastating Event'
La Cañada High School Student Dies After Jumping or Falling Off Campus Roof
Follow La Cañada Patch on Facebook and Twitter. Sign up for the newsletter.