DEMOPOLIS, Ala. (WSFA) - For teachers, there was a heaviness in the air Monday at Demopolis High School, three days after two students lost their lives in a drowning accident. The flags at half staff told the story.
“This was hard. She was quiet by nature. She made sure her work was done and she was a good friend to others," said Kelly Gandy, who taught both students in her financial literacy class.
The teenagers were identified for the first time Monday as Rayshawn Benison and Natasia Daniels, both 15. Daniels celebrated a birthday just a month ago.
It is still unclear just what happened Friday afternoon at the city landing in Demopolis, located near the Tombigbee River. A third student was able to make it safely back to shore.
Benison and Daniels were members of the Demopolis High School marching band.
“His personality is what I’ll remember the most. He is always the one that kept the band spirits high." said Band Director Bryce Youmans.
While Benson and Daniels will no longer march on the football fields or sit in the stands during football games, they not only made a lasting impact with their fellow students but with their teachers, as well.
“Such a great attitude," Youmans remembers of Benison.
This isn’t the first time the school has lost students, but it is the first time anyone can remember two students dying at once.
Classes were dismissed late Friday morning because it was the end of the 9-week report card period and the break extended through Monday.
“Students are going to need help," said Gandy.
Students return to class Tuesday but there won’t be any teaching or academics going on. The plan is to bring everyone together and learn one of the hardest lessons of all; that life can be unfair.
“This was devastating,” Gandy said.
School leaders say counselors will be made available for the students.