CHARLESTON, W.Va. --A little after 2:30 p.m. Friday, friends, teammates and classmates of Drew Morton filed onto the George Washington High School football field, formed a big circle and released bags full of balloons into a brilliant blue sky, creating a multicolored sendoff for Morton before the football team's Friday night football game in Princeton. Hundreds of fellow classmates watched from the sidelines.
As students clutched burgundy and white carnations with cards carrying the message "May we all celebrate his spirit," GW guidance counselor Billie Walker reminded them of the theme of Drew's Thursday night funeral, a theme of forgiveness, togetherness and family.
"We are one big family, all of us, and we have suffered a loss," Walker said. "It's time for us to be together as a family."
Drew Morton, 14, was riding with his friend Reed Deer, 15, on Sunday when Deer lost control of his parents' 2006 Lexus on Quarry Ridge Road and wrecked. Deer was wearing a seatbelt and survived all but unscathed. Morton was not wearing his seatbelt.
Both boys played on GW's football team. Coach Steve Edwards Jr. said the players are dealing with the loss of their teammate.
"I worry all the time about things affecting the game," Edwards said when asked how Drew's loss might affect play. "Everybody's different. We're just going to go and do the best we can."
But, he added, "Kids are resilient. They're strong, and sometimes they're more mature than we give them credit for."
Many of the adults at GW have been impressed with the level of maturity, understanding and caring shown by the student body.