PALMDALE – Students, school staff and community members flocked to Hillview Middle School Thursday night for a candlelight vigil in memory of Nigel Hardy, the 13-year-old student who committed suicide earlier this week.
Some youths wore t-shirts with Nigel’s picture on the back and an anti-bullying message on the front. Others held candles with Nigel’s picture on them and wore letter beaded bracelets that spelled “RIP Nigel.”
The crowd of more than 300 gathered just inside the main gates to the school where a collage, featuring several photos of Nigel, was propped against the Hillview Middle School sign.
“Nigel Hardy was a seventh grade student here at Hillview, an absolutely wonderful child,” said Principal Robert Garza. “But like many children, had some challenges in his life.”
Nigel reportedly shot himself in the head in a Rosamond restaurant Monday night and was pronounced dead at Antelope Valley Hospital. The teen’s family had reported him missing that morning, after his father found a suicide note in Nigel’s room and discovered that his handgun was missing, sheriff’s officials said. (Read more here)
School officials are not saying why Nigel was suspended, but several students have said that Nigel had a fight with another student, which triggered the suspension. Nigel, a cheerleader with the AV Dynasty, was being bullied at school, his classmates said.
At Thursday’s vigil, Nigel’s teammates said he had an ever-present smile and a cheerful personality, while in the gym doing what he truly loved.
“I don’t think he ever wanted to bring any of his problems there and that’s why he never wanted to really open up to us, but I really wish he would have,” said teammate Domanic Sorosjinda, a senior at Lancaster High School.
“I just really hope this all puts a stop to bullying because it’s not right what happened,” said teammate Kelly Hughes, 13.
A facebook page has been created by local students to allow youths to share their stories on bullying and to get support from their peers. The Nigel Project is for kids who are constantly being bullied at school and who may be afraid to seek help, said one of the page’s administrators.
“Our page is mostly to stop bullying and we want to get the word out that this happened, so that it never has to happen again,” the student said. Visit The Nigel Project here.
Speaking at the candlelight vigil Thursday night, Assemblyman Steve Fox said the California Assembly has just passed ACR-44, a resolution to establish the third Thursday of every April as a Day of Silence in the schools to protest bullying. Fox said he would be pushing legislation to change the current education code regarding bullying.
“The state education code states that if someone is found guilty of bullying, they may be suspended for up to five days. I’m going to introduce legislation that says they shall be suspended for up to five days,” Fox said. “We’re going to take a no tolerance policy and give the schools the tools they need to enforce a no bullying policy.”
“Let’s just stop this bullying and let’s just prevent this from ever happening again,” Sorosjinda said. “Do it for Nigel, do it for his family.”
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