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Classmates hold a vigil, City Council observes a moment of silence

Students ask for a place where they can pay their respects.

March 06, 2013|By Tiffany Kelly, tiffany.kelly@latimes.com
  • The La Cañada School Board observes a moment of silence for the student who died on the La Cañada High School campus.
The La Cañada School Board observes a moment of… (Photo courtesy…)

A somber mood hung over the city this week as students, staff and parents remembered a student who jumped to his death Friday afternoon from a building on the La Cañada High School campus.

Campbell Forrest Taylor, 17, was a senior at the school. Friends described him as an ambitious and outspoken young man who channeled his creative energy into theater and the school newspaper, The Spartan.

PHOTOS: Memorial at La Cañada High

“He was not afraid to take on controversial issues,” said Kevork Kurdoghlian, a former editor of The Spartan and 2012 graduate of La Cañada High. “He was extremely bold and extremely blunt.”

Kurdoghlian, 18, said his former classmate had a great work ethic and was eager to move up on the newspaper's editorial staff shortly after joining it.

After graduating this summer, Taylor had plans to go to school in Sacramento. He showed an interest in becoming an officer in the military reserves, Kurdoghlian said.

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On Friday, around 3:55 p.m., he jumped from the third-floor walkway of the junior high building on campus. Coroner's officials deemed the death a suicide.

The incident left the community in shock. A choir concert and other events were canceled during the weekend. On Saturday night, hundreds of students, parents and teachers gathered for a candlelight vigil at the high school. Candy, flowers and a typewriter were placed in front of the school's sign in a temporary memorial.

On Monday, lockers on campus were covered with pink or white post-it notes that read, “you are loved.”

Students described the atmosphere as still and gloomy.

“Everyone was quiet, everyone was respectful,” said Shant Hairapetian, 17. “I think it was tragic for everyone.”

Some students wore black, he said, but “everyone expressed remorse in a different way.”

Mayor Steve Del Guercio asked the City Council and staff members for a moment of silence at the end of the Monday night meeting. Members of the La Cañada school board rose from their seats and bowed their heads in silence before beginning their scheduled meeting on Tuesday night.

School board President Scott Tracy commended Wendy Sinnette, superintendent of schools, for working quickly to offer counseling to the affected students and for providing a sense of normalcy on campus. He also thanked the community for its support.

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