SHS Class Of 2013 Remembers The Classmates They Lost
By: KATIE GOERS, May 30, 2014
The friends and family of two students who died of cancer before graduating with their 2013 Sandwich High School class gathered last Saturday to dedicate two benches on school grounds in their memory.
Both Nayree Goler and Charles R. Foley lost their battles with cancer at a young age and were fondly remembered by their classmates and teachers. When the graduating class of 2013 was presented with the challenge of deciding what their gift to their school would be, they thought of their two friends and wanted to do something that would keep them in the minds of everyone who came across their gift. They ultimately decided on the two benches and had them placed near the outdoor basketball courts, so that their classmates would always be surrounded by people who would remember them.
Charles R. Foley Jr. died on November 22, 2009, after a 4 1/2-year-long battle with medulloblastoma brain cancer, when he was 14 years old. Nayree Goler lost her battle with cancer on July 23, 2011, at the age of 16.
Saturday’s ceremony began at 11 AM with Sandwich High School’s Three Skinny Dudes performing “Lean on Me,” while the ceremony attendants gathered around. The nurse at the high school, Kathleen Grant, shared her memories of Nayree, who came to Sandwich High School in 9th grade. “She had great determination and strength,” Ms. Grant said. “She didn’t let her illness define her and she expressed herself through her art.”
Evan Denmark, the vice president of the Class of 2013, also remembered Nayree for her artwork and positive attitude. “She loved art. You could see it. She was amazing,” Mr. Denmark said. “How can anyone ask for anything more than to do what they love?”
Matthew Bridges, who was the principal at the Henry T. Wing school while Charles was a student there, remembered the courage and determination that Charles had. “He touched your heart no matter what your interaction was with him,” Mr. Bridges said. “He never complained about anything. His smile was infectious.”
Mr. Denmark said that he always remembers Charles with a big smile on his face. “That happiness is just something amazing,” he said.
The parents of both students were touched to see the way that their children were remembered by their classmates. James Pasto, Nayree’s stepfather, offered his thanks to her friends. “You really welcomed her, loved her, took her in,” Pasto said. “Big thanks to all of you. You welcomed her from the very beginning.”
Sharon L. Gilmartin, Charles’s mother, was also thankful. “Thank you for remembering Charles,” she said directly to the Class of 2013. “This means a lot to me, his sister, and his family. I don’t know how to thank you all.”
Ms. Gilmartin said her son loved school and wanted to be a teacher when he grew up. After his death, she donated his brain and spine to be used strictly for brain cancer research. “He’s still able to be a teacher, even in his death,” Ms. Gilmartin said.
Charles’s sister, Abigail R. Gilmartin, was his best friend. “He was always caring and always put someone else before him. He always had a smile on his face,” Abigail said. “I couldn’t ask for a better brother.”