The Robert E. Lee International Baccalaureate Class of 2018 directly felt the impact of the senseless loss of 10-year-old Kayla Gomez-Orozco. Their own classmate, Clarissa Orozco, was one of Kayla's cousins.
During the past week, the Lee students anxiously awaited any news regarding Gomez-Orozco, who went missing after a church service Tuesday. Once the news came Saturday night that Kayla's body had been found, it didn't take long for the close-knit group to organize an event to honor the Orozco family.
Using their group text site, the classmates planned the event, contacted school officials and collected supplies for a balloon release, held on Monday afternoon at the school's football field. Throughout the day Monday, the IB students encouraged their fellow Red Raiders to express their support and concern for the Orozco family through notes, which then were rolled and tied with a satin ribbon.
The notes overflowed a basket that was delivered to the family following the balloon release. Social media transmitted the news of the event across the community.
Faculty, staff and students on campus joined together wearing pink attire, and behind the scenes, the IB students worked to fill more than 300 balloons for release.
At the end of the school day, students were joined by community members on the football field. The supply of balloons was exhausted as people continued to file on to the field.
IB students led the group in expressing their thoughts of sorrow and led a prayer for the family. Miss Orozco thanked the participants for their support. The balloons were released and filled the sky. After most of the students and community members left the field, the IB students gathered together around Miss Orozco, demonstrating that sometimes family extends beyond the traditional definition.
The International Baccalaureate is a college preparatory program based out of Geneva, Switzerland, that aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. Robert E. Lee High School is one of 891 Diploma Programmes in the United States.