The morning news reported 2 dead and one critically injured,
one story that woke me up but the name they read sounded all too familiar,
not the make of the car which happened to be a Pontiac that flipped over on the shoulder of the interstate
1 critically injured
2 dead immediately upon contact
but as I tightened my tie,
no lie it struck me
upon which the news reported was the second to die with a suspected murderer
recklessly driving,
She was once a student of mine,
once a hard young girl who cursed and hated showing up but knew
Ms. Grant & Mr. Graham expected her to be on time.
Like that one time,
I wanted to kick her completely out of class
but took a moment in time to see she had a little pizazz
and was actually smart if you expected her to be.
But she was in love with a suspected killer,
and in public’s eye she was guilty…
by association her death on that roadway that day made her less than important
According to the news,
made her seem like another trouble maker,
another rift raft with no craft,
no cooth,
and should be forgotten about.
You knew her,
her name was Mercedes
but just like any other young lady that hits adolescence she was finding herself
where would you be if you didn’t make a couple mistakes.
And I doubt the driver meant to make the mistake,
Trying to pass a truck,
too many spins,
too many flips,
two lives gone and 1 critically injured,
but Keep in mind these were three mothers’ children.
And I knew Mercedes
Her mother was proud of her
Not just her progression, did I mention charismatic she defined it,
she was once a hard headed student
but able to leave make strides once you cracked her shell she listened.
My lesson plan that day was not geography class
but would address rushing,
would address taking time and appreciating our blessings.
The news and gossip around class was that she was dead.
the look on some faces confirmed it.
It was just like the face she once made
I remember her stressing at school due to frustration,
boy problems and tests on the way,
conflict with her mother
But its only 24 hours in a day.
I was only 24 when I taught Mercedes, and she called me Pops one day,
I had one son but told her I was too young to be her father
but I swear if she was alive,
I probably would be proud of her today because the truth is I watched her like she was my God daughter.
Within 2 years she put on a show,
from screwed up in school,
lacking in grades,
bad attitude and a couple fights Dr. Phillips couldn’t cure her life.
She did that,
she came to class even if I yelled to her to sit and listen,
rewind that,
she had sat and listened,
paid attention, changed her attitude and proved to me differently
She would’ve graduated
But Mercedes crashed in an accident.
She was riding with a suspected killer
and some may feel she deserved it due to circumstances.
Mercedes may have not been perfect, but she made coming to work worth it. She changed my smile
I mean I love and appreciate a little more effort.
I taught and she understood the lesson,
And the lesson was, its not how you die sometimes but how much your life progresses.

I wrote the previous poem for a good reason. A great friend of mine Cameron Hopewell, recently lost a former student of his, Frank Whack. This was so familiar to me, 5 years ago I lost one of my favorite students, Mercedes Bass to an accident. Just like Frank, she was at-risk, alternative school student that made strides and changed so much. No matter the mistakes she made afterwards, there was some real hurt behind knowing her life was gone but full of potential.

When you see a child change and become a child again, not living by the pressures the world has given them, it all feels good. I’ve been to more young people’s funerals these years than the elderly. And not one of them was joyous all sad, no matter what mistakes those children made. They were children, they had a chance to change, for the better, and that’s what makes it hard to deal with.

For those of you who have given THANK YOU. Please continue to spread the word to friends and family. For those that have yet to give the time is not over. You can log on to the WEPAY account and give. Or you can go into any local BANK OF AMERICA BRANCH and make a deposit into the FRANK WHACK MEMORIAL FUND. Thank you as a community we can make this happen.

Celebrating the life of Frank Whack


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