St. Raymond students remember victims of parkway van crash

Students, faculty and staff held a memorial service on Wednesday, June 20 in memory of Jasly Gonzalez, a fourth grade student killed in the Bronx River Parkway crash last month.
A plaque, tree and garden were dedicated in her honor.
Photo by Kirsten Sanchez

Jaslyn Gonzalez will forever be remembered by students and faculty at St. Raymond’s elementary school.

Gonzalez, a victim of the tragic Bronx River Parkway accident in April that killed seven family members, was remembered by family, friends, students and faculty on Wednesday, June 20 at the Parkchester school.

The fourth grade student was honored with a small memorial space that includes a tree, garden, statue of the Virgin Mary and plaque.

The plaque reads “In memory of our beloved Jaslyn Gonzalez and the members of the Nunez, Martinez, Gonzalez and Rosario families.”

The mass and dedication ceremony are among a number of initiatives the school has taken to help the Gonzalez family cope with the tragedy.

During the ceremony, the school’s 863 students gathered around the memorial space and the Gonzalez family to sing “On eagle’s wings” and watch Archbishop Charles Palmer Buckle of the Archdiocese of Accra in Ghana perform a blessing of the space.

Students from Gonzalez’s fourth grade class also presented her father with a few small hand made items, including a book of prayers, letters and memories which they called “Doves for Jaslyn”.

Gonzalez’s father Juan, who quietly wept during the dedication, accepted the gifts and said he was “overwhelmed and grateful to the school, and the community for the memorial service.”

In the days following the accident, a team of faculty members, administrators said they worked together with parish priests and held personal discussions with students from grades one through eight to answer any questions, especially regarding the tragedy, the accident and Gonzalez.

The elementary school and parish have since set up an educational fund for Jeury Gonzalez, brother of Jaslyn, to help pay for his Catholic school tuition and fees.

As of the day of the ceremony, the total amount raised for the fund, was about $11,000.

“She was a very nice girl, and I am going to miss her a lot,” a student from Gonzalez’s class said. “It makes me feel sad, but I think she is in Heaven.”

Sr. Patricia Brito, principal of St. Raymond Elementary, said the idea for the tree dedication and plaque came from students.

“Certainly the family spirit lives on in us, and we want to keep that before us,” she said. “The dedication will serve as a reminder for all of us.”

Kirsten Sanchez can be reach via e-mail at ksanchez@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3394

Students dressed in purple, Gonzalez's favorite color, while singing “on eagle's wings”. At the end of the ceremony, purple and white balloons were released into the air by Gonzalez's family, friends and teachers.
Photo by Kirsten Sanchez

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