09/27/12 — Goldsboro High students remember classmate with 100 balloon launch

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Goldsboro High students remember classmate with 100 balloon launch

By John Joyce
Published in News on September 27, 2012 1:46 PM

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Goldsboro High School juniors Ashley McCormick, left, and Kiara Hollaway, right, stand in mourning during a memorial service for Kennedy "Ken" McLaurin Jr. held on the football field at Goldsboro High School.

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Goldsboro High School students watched as members of the school's junior class, pictured above, released balloons at a ceremony in honor of their classmate, Kennedy McLaurin, Wednesday.

The words of "Amazing Grace," strained as much by emotion as by the aging public address system at Cougar Field, echoed around the students of Goldsboro High School Wednesday.

They had gathered at the stadium's 50-yard-line to say goodbye to fellow student, Kennedy "Ken" McLaurin Jr., lost much too soon.

And it was not easy.

The hymn, performed by junior Tristan McCoy, preceded the release of more than 100 white balloons released by the 500 members of Kennedy's junior class, all of whom stood up in front wearing white T-shirts in memory of their lost classmate.

Kennedy's mother, Kim Best, thanked the students for their love and support, saying that she was certain he was looking down on them. She encouraged each of them to graduate and to do well.

Jonathan Best, Kennedy's older brother and a senior at the high school, also spoke to his classmates.

"I just want to thank everybody for coming out and showing support," he said. "I know he's looking down, and I just want to say that, I'm my brother's keeper (until) the day I die."

Teachers handed out tissues for those who needed them.

Some saved one for themselves.

Hugs were shared within the crowd.

Senior Julius Murphy, student body president and quarterback of the football team, said that over the last week or so, as the tragedy of Kennedy's death unfolded, the students have really come together.

"People have been a little sad, but still going to class and working together," Murphy said.

He described McLaurin as someone who was very funny and always had a joke to tell, a very "popular guy" -- so popular that the students requested to hold the tribute and to wear green this week. Green, they said, was Kennedy's favorite color.

"The kids have been wearing green every day, but we decided to have White-out Wednesday with the T-shirts and balloons to honor Kennedy," principal Tonya Faison said.

After releasing the balloons, the junior class lined up to hug Mrs. Best, and to tell her how they knew her son. Some took an extra minute to share a personal thought or memory.

A memorial is scheduled at the high school Saturday from 7 to 9 p.m.

Family spokespersons April Cox and Coreen Hagans are facilitating the event and asked that volunteers or people wishing to speak at the event contact them at either 919-252-7759 or 919-922-2150.