03/01/04 — School students mourn girl's death

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School students mourn girl's death

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on March 1, 2004 1:59 PM

A Norwayne Middle School student who lost her life in a house fire over the weekend was remembered today for her beautiful smile and for being a good student.

Blair Long, 12, died shortly after midnight Saturday morning at her home on Kimberly Lane. Parents Christopher and Rhonda Long were awakened by a fire alarm but were unable to rescue their only child.

Blair's body was discovered in her bedroom closet.

Principal Barbara Wilkins said the sixth-grader was a well-rounded student at the school

"You'd like to have a school full of students like Blair," she said.

She played the clarinet in the middle school band and was a promising basketball player. She was on the Norwayne Saturday Basketball League, and last week her team won the championship.

Ms. Wilkins said a moment of silence was held at the school this morning, and that a crisis team was on hand to talk with staff or students who requested it. A letter was also sent home to parents today advising them of the situation and suggesting they call the school if a child needs to talk with someone further.

"Wayne County public schools has been very supportive," she said. "A psychologist, counselor and a minister from the community came to the school and counselors from other schools have also offered to come."

A courtyard project already begun at the school will incorporate the loss. Ms. Wilkins said bricks are being ordered for the courtyard in the center of the campus, and will contain the names of former students and honor others. One of the bricks will be designated with Blair's name on it, she said.

"This is a way for us to remember Blair and for future students to remember her," she said.

A fund has also been set up to help with the rebuilding process for the family, who lost their home and possessions.

Jerry Tillman, a friend of the family, said donations can be designated to the Chris and Gaye Long Fund and mailed to him at 140 Quail Croft Drive, Goldsboro, N.C. 27534. For more information, contact Tillman at 751-1881.