Friends, family and loved ones were invited to the Tygart Valley Community Library Saturday evening to remember the life of Dustin "Dusty" White, 17, a Tygarts Valley High School student who died following an altercation with another student Friday evening before the TVHS football game.
Young Life leaders organized the memorial event, which featured TVHS teachers and local ministers speaking to students and parents, hoping to help foster healing following the stabbing death of White outside Bulldog Field.
Officials apprehended a suspect in the incident, and he is being held in custody. The suspect's name has not been released because he is a juvenile.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Casey Houser
Tygarts Valley High School boys huddle during a group prayer at the Tygart Valley Community Library on Saturday evening. Friends and family met to discuss the loss of Dustin ‘Dusty’ White, after his tragic death Friday.
Several people spoke during Saturday's memorial, but the speaker who seemed to touch the crowd most deeply was Dustin's father, Kevin White.
"He was true, he loved his family," Kevin White said of his son.
"Stick up for yourself. Help one another," Kevin White told those in attendance. "Don't let him die for nothing."
Those words capped off the unsaid theme of the evening: dealing with grief in a healthy way that doesn't include additional violence, anger or retaliation.
Steve Currence, the Tucker Valley Young Life leader, said the impetus for the gathering was to bring the community together.
"I thought it would be a good opportunity to get the kids together, get their feelings," he said. "They're coming together and they're going to grieve together."
At the start of the event, high school boys and girls were split into separate groups.
Boys shared the good times that they spent with Dustin. They told stories about his positive demeanor. One student spoke about their time spent playing jokes on the teacher in geometry class.
"Seeing that silly grin on his face, that's probably the funniest thing I'd seen in a long time," he said.
Girls talked about the emotional nature of loss, with teacher Julie Dean addressing the group. She spoke about support through friendships as a way to process the pain.
"People are there for each other, and it touches my heart," she said.
In response, a high school girl also referenced Dustin's attitude.
"He wouldn't want us to be sad," she said. "He'd want us to have that grin he always had."
Following their time apart, the boys and girls regrouped. Together they discussed their loss, amidst more laughing and more tears.
"Dustin was one of my best friends," P.J. Scott said. "He was always laughing and smiling."
"Dustin was one of the kindest people I've had the opportunity of growing up with," Kathleen Stallman said.
Contact Casey Houser by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.