Tragedy after tragedy after tragedy.
That’s how this year has gone for Waterford and its high school, with the last seven days being incredibly painful. Last Friday, Waterford High School student William “Billy” Adams, 16, , and then Thursday evening, an hour after calling hours for Adams, news broke that recent Waterford High School graduate and University of New Haven student Stirling Danskin, 20,
“We’ve had tragedies from time to time that affected Waterford High School,” Principal Don Macrino said. “But I can’t recall a year where I’ve had so many.”
In January, Waterford High School special education teacher Chris Johnson . And in October, recent Waterford High School graduate Samantha Sterenchock, 18, , and 2001 Waterford High School graduate Staff Sgt. Ari Cullers
“It just has been one bad thing after another,” Waterford High School band director Tim Fioravanti, who knew Danskin and Sterenchock well. “You ask why this is happening to kids. Parents should not be burying their children. It is just awful.”
Danskin, 20, was a sophomore at the University of New Haven who was majoring in music and sound recording. He graduated Waterford High School in 2010, and was active in the band, WATERFORDrama and the chorus.
“He was a fun-loving guy,” Fioravanti said. “He was that guy that would make the whole world brighten up. He would just make any situation a fun one to be in.”
Danskin had three siblings, according to Fioravanti. He was also an Eagle Scout, according to First Selectman Dan Steward.
“He was a very bright man, very outgoing,” Macrino said. “He will be missed.”
Sterenchock was also involved with drama, Fioravanti said. Drama and music kids form a tight group, and losing one is like losing a relative, he said.
“It is really like family,” Fioravanti said. “We are losing family. It is brutally hard on the kids.”
Linda Snyder, Sterenchock’s mother, on Thursday about the death of Danskin. Snyder said she would be there for her the Danskin family.
“Our condolences to the Danskin family,” she wrote. “You are in our thoughts and prayers. I'm sure Sam (Sterenchock) was there to greet Stirling (Danskin) at heaven's gates with a big hug! I am here if you need to talk.”
The school and the town are wrestling with five unexpected deaths, including three teenagers, since October, Steward said. It is not something Waterford is used to, he said.
“It’s been a horrible week,” he said. “It’s been awful. It is just so sad. This is not at all what we think should happen. We just have to go along and deal with it.”
School has not been in session since Thursday, the day before Adams died. Once the students come back from April break on Monday, there will be a moment of silence for Adams and Danskin, Macrino said.
There will also be a crisis team set up to help out any students who need help grieving, he said. But school will go on, he said.
“Our efforts will be to certainly pay respects to the two students, but try to carry on,” he said. “Teenagers tend to find a great deal of security in routine.”
The deaths have been terrible, but there is a message, Macrino said. The message is to live life, enjoy the moment and remember life is fragile, he said.
“Yesterday’s gone and you don’t have tomorrow; you have to make the best of the moment,” Macrino said. “But I guess that is for everything in life.”