Dozens of teens, parents, and teachers gathered at Oliver Ames High School in Easton on Saturday as the community grieved for Devin Ness, an 18-year-old senior and captain of the wrestling team, who died from an aneurysm Friday morning, the school principal said.
“I think we’re doing as well as we can in the midst of such a tragic loss,” Wes Paul, principal at Oliver Ames, said in a phone interview Saturday afternoon.
Paul learned Thursday night that Ness had been rushed to the hospital, suffering from a “brain bleed.” He had been at his cousin’s house with his sister, taking care of the family’s pets, Paul said.
His family could not be reached for comment.
Students returned to the school Saturday for counseling services. Barbara Bigelow, a school psychologist at Oliver Ames, said they gathered in small groups to talk and make cards for Ness’s family.
On Friday morning, she said, school administrators broke the news of Ness’s death first to the wrestling team, before telling the other students. Classes were informally canceled, she said, and students were given the opportunity to talk to each other and to teachers about the loss.
“We told them, ‘We can’t explain this, but we’re here to support you in any way we can and we want you to support each other,’ ” Bigelow said. “They were pretty shell-shocked with the information.”
On Saturday, school officials again met privately with members of the wrestling team, Paul said, so some athletes could decide whether to participate in the Hockomock League Wrestling Championships Sunday in Franklin.
“I think the vast majority of them really felt that they did” want to participate, Paul said.
Bigelow said some of the wrestlers wanted to go in honor of Ness, who has been remembered for his kindness and willingness to help out, cleaning wrestling mats or leading his teammates.
“He was a kid that was extremely helpful to other kids,” she said.
Bigelow said she spoke to Ness as recently as last week about possibly taking some business classes next year to support his post-graduate plans.
“He was going to go into the HVAC business after graduation with his dad,” she said.
At school, Paul said, Ness was a solid student who was particularly fond of his shop class.
“A big part of Devin’s joy at school was working in the metal shop,” the principal said.
Paul said he plans to meet Monday afternoon with students who are going to Ness’s wake and funeral. His wake is scheduled for Tuesday from 3 to 8 p.m. and the funeral is scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday, he said. Both will take place at the First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Brockton, Paul said.
Bigelow said the school will continue to offer outreach services, especially for students who were close to Ness.
“This loss will resonate for the rest of the year with the senior class,” she said. “It will become huge in the minds of the kids.”
Students have already united around the tragedy, Paul said, coming together as they believe Ness would want them to.
“It’s changed us as a community and a school, and we’re having students really reaching out to each other and talking about the importance of cherishing every moment and being supportive of each other,” he said.