Two weeks ago, the GGHS community was shaken by the tragic news that senior Ryan Nguyen had unexpectedly passed away. A passionate, kind, funny student, Ryan was well-known and appreciated by many on campus. On Thursday, November 6, students and teachers gathered in the quad to mourn the loss of a friend, student, and beloved Argo.
The crowd gathered around a poster with pictures of Ryan, and honored Ryan’s memory through a moment of silence, a musical dedication performed by Polynesian Club, and speakers coming up to share how Ryan impacted their lives. Many tears were shed, but all of those who gathered were quick to offer hugs and words of support to each other.
Polynesian Club opened the memorial with a song written for Ryan, about how much he is loved and how much he will be missed. These messages were echoed by students who came up to share their stories about Ryan.
Everyone who spoke acknowledged his kindness and sense of humor and he brought light into their lives. Michelle, a student who had known Ryan since the seventh grade, talked about how she was “blessed to have him in her life” and regretted not being very close with him. His friend Cassandra, whom he had gone to school with since elementary, spoke about how kind Ryan always was. David Nguyen, another friend of Ryan’s, sent in a note that was read aloud which told about how he had become friends with Ryan in freshman year and the memories that they had shared. Many more students came forward as well, emotional but grateful to have known Ryan.
Even those who were only acquaintances of Ryan said that their encounters with him, however brief, made their entire day better.
“I really wish I got to know you,” said Jesse Sanchez (12), who had met Ryan on the way to class and had a conversation with him where they cracked many jokes together.
Ms. Kalayjian came up to talk about how she felt honored to have had Ryan as a student for two years in English. She lovingly called him a stinker, recounting all of the pranks he would pull and the jokes he made. Ms. Repp gave a speech honoring Ryan’s kindness and how when he was in her photography and exploratory art classes, he would always stay behind class to help clean up.
Jay Larson, Ryan’s father figure, sent in a speech dedicated to him. He wrote about their shared love of sports and how Ryan may not have been his son, but he felt a bond with him as though he was. He celebrated Ryan’s compassion, enthusiasm, passion for sports, and sense of humor.
After the speeches, Ryan’s mother came up and thanked everyone for their kind words. Mr. Nguyen closed the memorial saying, “Life is too short. Be kind to each other; do it for Ryan.”
The loss of Ryan is heartbreaking. Yet at the end of the day everyone was able to come together in an event to celebrate a beloved Argo who shined light on the lives of many. The sense of support and love was overwhelming, and as Ryan’s pictures smiled down at the crowd, it was clear that his spirit was there listening and appreciating the kindness of everyone there. In honor of Ryan Nguyen, we all should spread kindness and humor to everyone around us. As Coach Larson said, “Keep the spirit of Team Ryan alive.”
by Madalyn Spangler