Monday was a day of mourning at Needham High School.
Steven Leicht, 16, a junior, said the whole school is reeling from the fatal crash that took the lives of two of his classmates, Talia Newfield, 16, and Adrienne Garrido, 17.
“Words can’t describe it,” Leicht said.
Grieving students gathered in the school library on Monday, he said, and a therapy dog was provided to lend emotional support to those needing it.
“Teachers have been crying in school,” he said.
Luca Mancino, 14, a freshman, said the loss of the two students has touched everyone at Needham High. “It’s just tragic,” Mancino said. “I didn’t really know them, but it’s just taking a hard toll on all of us. It’s really made us appreciate everyone else around us.”
Mancino said the school had a different environment Monday, with quiet hallways marking the typically bustling school day.
“Everyone was super tense,” he said. “You could just feel that something terrible had happened.”
Rachel Hurwitz, 15, a sophomore, said Monday was a rough day. Mid-terms and tests were postponed because students and teachers were so upset, she said. “People were crying in classes,” she said.
Inside school, she said, “it was silent.”
Ryan Meade, 16, a sophomore, didn’t know Newfield and Garrido very well, but said that whenever he saw them in the halls, “they always had a smile on their faces.”
School was different “because we lost two important members of our community,” Meade said, “and that’s really sad.”
Outside of the high school, one Needham resident made a point to stop at the makeshift memorial by the crosswalk on Webster Street.
Maureen Gatulis didn’t know the girls, but after learning they had died she felt she had to do something. So she stopped at Trader Joe’s and bought a bouquet of flowers to add to the memorial as a tribute to their lives – lives that were cut far too short, and far too soon.
After she gently placed the flowers down at the memorial, she walked across the street and reflected on the tragic loss that’s being felt throughout the whole town. “It’s very sad,” she said.
Helen Lasic, a Needham resident, brought her children and their best friends to pay their respects at the memorial just outside the high school. Lasic said her daughter’s current teacher also taught Newfield and Garrido when they were in 7th grade.
“It’s affects the whole town because the town is such a small community,” Lasic said.