Video: Student who died this week honored at Willmar homecoming
WILLMAR -- A lone pickup truck parked near the tailgate party at Willmar's homecoming game Friday was a somber reminder that a member of the senior class died this week.
WILLMAR - A lone pickup truck parked near the tailgate party at Willmar’s homecoming game Friday was a somber reminder that a member of the senior class died this week.
The family of Tyler S. Lorensen, 17, of Kandiyohi, said he died Monday in an accident at their home, Principal Paul Schmitz said Friday morning.
Lorensen’s friends picked up his truck at the family’s home Friday afternoon and drove it to the tailgate party before the homecoming game at Hodapp Field, Schmitz said.
Homecoming activities continued as scheduled at the school, but it was a quieter week than usual, Schmitz said. Lorensen had attended Willmar Public Schools since preschool, and many students and teachers had known him through the years.
Lorensen’s funeral will be at 2 p.m. Monday at the Assembly of God Epik Center. Visitation will be from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday at Harvey Anderson Funeral Home in Willmar.
Lorensen was an avid hunter and outdoorsman. His family has asked that those attending the services wear camouflage clothing.
Young people have been wearing camo to school much of the week, Schmitz said. Monday, the day of his funeral, will be camo day at the school.
Friday night, notes and pencils were available in the pickup box where classmates and others could leave notes for the Lorensen family. They were invited to take photos around the truck, too.
“He was a quieter kid, but he had lots of friends,” Schmitz said. “He was liked by everybody; he was just a very likable, humble kid.”
The school’s principals, counselors and social workers were available throughout the week to meet with kids who needed to talk, Schmitz said Friday morning. Students and adults in the district have had many conversations about the tragedy, he said.
Because Willmar is a larger school, “we’re big enough that kids are still sad, but for a lot of them, it’s not an immediate impact on their lives,” Schmitz said. It has been most difficult for seniors and for his close-knit group of friends.
The school has a plan in place to handle tragedies that strike students. The district has sent emails to students and to parents of seniors, Schmitz said.
In the email to parents, Schmitz wrote that students who wish to attend the funeral will be excused from school to do that. He has encouraged students to consider attending the visitation or the funeral to show support for the family.
The district has been able to help students using its own personnel, but schools in the area have developed a regional crisis team of counselors and others that is on standby to assist any school that needs them, he said.
Schmitz called the seniors to a meeting Thursday to discuss ways of honoring Lorensen.
The school has a memorial garden near the front entrance. The garden honors students and recent graduates who have died, and the parents have a support group that will reach out to the Lorensen family.
The yearbook staff is planning a remembrance in the yearbook, and there will be an empty seat at graduation with his cap and gown on it.
Students have come up with others ideas, like planting a tree and having a fundraiser, he said.
“I have been very encouraged by the level of maturity and respect the kids have shown,” he said.
“Everything we’ve done has been run through the family and the student council,” Schmitz said. “We’re trying to make it about the kids.”