Hometown Hero helps students grieve loss of classmate through artwork

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – This week’s Hometown Hero inspired her students’ creativity to help them grieve after the death of their classmate in December.

Through their art, Wilson Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Courtney Angelo allowed her students to express themselves in a way words couldn’t describe.

The loss of a child is more than most adults can comprehend.

But during this school year, that was the task of parents and teachers at Wilson following a tragic fire that claimed the life of 9-year-old Aleysha Rosario along with her four siblings at their house on Parkcliffe Avenue in Youngstown.

“I feel a little overwhelmed. It’s been a very emotional school year,” Angelo said.

Angelo led the way. She’s been teaching her class of students for two years, through third and fourth grade.

From the moment Angelo found out what had happened, she knew she had to give her students an outlet to express themselves.

“I had known that they were artistic and Aleysha was very artistic. She loved to draw. I still have drawings in my bag that I will never ever get rid of, I’ll keep them forever,” Angelo said.

But she also knew her class would have a lot of questions or wouldn’t be able to find the words for their sadness.

“I know words are hard as a 27-year-old, I can’t imagine what words are like for them as 9-year-olds to go through something like this. It was just a way to get them through it, you know, we cried a lot together and it was not easy,” Angelo said.

Angelo said she owes a lot of her strength to her family and friends, the parents of her students and everyone within the Youngstown City School District.

“I’m very thankful and very lucky to be surrounded by such great people,” she said.

But, she didn’t stop days or weeks after the fact. As a family, Angelo and her students marked occasions like Aleysha’s birthday and the end of school with the art of self-expression.

“This just brought us closer. But either way, I’m lucky to be their teacher,” Angelo said.

While she was tearing down her classroom for the year, Angelo made sure to keep every piece of artwork her students made.

Her hope is that as her students continue their education they keep Aleysha’s memory alive and will one day do something special with this art as a class in her honor.

But no matter what, these students and their parents know if they need absolutely anything, Angelo will always be there for them.

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