North Adams youth share a common loss in 3 recent tragic deaths

Sunday September 2, 2012

NORTH ADAMS -- Over a month’s span, the city of North Adams has lost three well-known residents in untimely circumstances.

On July 27, Matthew A. Goodson, 21, died from injuries suffered while riding the motorcycle he loved in Petersburg, N.Y., according to his obituary. He was educated in North Adams schools and was a member of the city’s COTY Youth Center.

Nancy L. Carpenter, 61, died on Aug. 2 as a result of an automobile accident in Clarksburg. She was a veteran special education teacher of 35 years at Drury High School and a member of the Berk shire Dream Center.

Pfc. Michael R. DeMarsico II, 21, died on Aug. 16 from injuries suffered from an enemy-improvised explosive device while serving with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan. The Drury High School graduate was honorably laid to rest on Saturday in his hometown.

The Rev. David Anderson, past or of the First Baptist Church of North Adams, officiated all three funeral services.

Among those he and the church attended to during these times of grief, Anderson noticed that the same young people have been tied to and have been mourning the two young men and the school teacher.

"Over the last three weeks or so, there have been a few big losses in the town," said Anderson.

"All three of these deaths in particular have impacted our younger adults, mostly 18 into their 20s. I’ve seen a lot of familiar returning faces at all three of these gatherings," Anderson said.

The pastor said about 450 people attended Goodson’s funeral; about 50 people, mostly young adults, remained at the church afterwards to gather, grieve and seek advice from church counsel. The same number of people also attended a candlelight vigil for Goodson at Joe Wolfe Field.

Upwards of 700 people were expected to attend De Marsico’s funeral. Anderson said he would again open the church doors on Saturday evening and times throughout Sunday and the week for people to be able "to come and talk about their common loss over these few weeks."

Local high schools are also on alert to support area students, including city high schools Drury and McCann Technical.

Drury Principal Amy Meehan said that during a professional development program this week, staff at each school in the district will develop a plan to support students and staff in each building, as DeMarsico still has a sibling and friends in city schools and Carpenter left behind many colleagues.

"We’re anticipating questions [from kids] asking where’s Ms. Carpenter," Meehan said.

On Tuesday, McCann will be hosting an in-service day for its teachers and staff. Justin Kratz, McCann’s new principal, said during that time the school plans to debrief support staff like guidance counselors and the school psychologist about the deaths.

"Our staff will keep an eye open for students who may be struggling with the loss and tragedies," Kratz said.


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