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Statement regarding tragic death of Ruth Asawa School of the Arts student in Oakland Ghost Ship Warehouse fire

An 11th grader from Ruth Asawa School of the Arts (SOTA) is one of the confirmed deceased from the Oakland "Ghost Ship" warehouse fire that occurred on Friday, Dec. 2.

School administrators and San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) officials coordinated over the weekend to make sure community members were informed and counseling services were immediately available for students and faculty when everyone returned on Monday morning.

"This is an incredibly unsettling and sad event – for the Asawa SOTA community, and especially for the victim's family," said SOTA Principal Barnaby Payne. "As sad as we are today, I know that how we react in challenging times is what defines us as a community.  As parents, teachers, children, students, brothers, sisters, and friends, we share in the heartbreak of his family and will embrace them and each other as Asawa SOTA family. We must rise to this occasion and rally around each other with love, compassion and support."

If students need to speak with someone during the day to process feelings and grief, counselors are available in the school's Wellness Program Center and counseling office.

Faculty and administration will work with student leaders to determine how the school will grieve in community, with consent of the student's family. Until then, no on-campus schoolwide events are planned at this time.

Interim Superintendent Myong Leigh said, "Our hearts are with all who lost loved ones in this tragedy, including those within the Asawa SOTA and SFUSD community. It is both painful and poignant that the victims' lives were lost while seeking community and connection through a shared love of art and creative expression. We mourn especially deeply for our student, the fire's youngest victim, and with and for his family."

“We are heartbroken, and we send our deepest condolences to the loved ones of everyone who was lost in this terrible tragedy.  We are devastated at the loss of one of our students, and we mourn with his family, friends and school community.  We will come together and do all we can to love and support each other and lift up the memories of those we lost,” said SF Board of Education president Matt Haney.

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Page updated on 12/05/16