Community gathers to celebrate life of 15-year-old killed by fallen tree
FORT THOMAS, Ky. (WKRC) - A day after a 15-year-old was tragically killed by a falling tree, her classmates remember her.
Michelle Chalk would have been a freshman at Highlands High School. On Thursday, Michelle should have been at the school for freshman orientation.
Instead, the Fort Thomas community gathered there Wednesday night to celebrate the life of a bright and talented 15-year-old.
Hundreds of students arrive at the high school for the memorial service. Many are still trying to process Michelle's tragic death.
"The biggest thing that I told the students is that it is OK to emote," said Highlands High School's theater director, Jason Burgess. "It's OK to cry; it's okay to be upset. Looking for the sense in this, the logic, you will drive yourself crazy. "
Burgess spent a lot of time around Michelle. Since her death, he's been in constant communication with students and staff.
"At that point you become a support system for each other and really just lean on each other and talk nonsensically at times and just be," he said.
In his 11 years of teaching, Burgess says this is a first. And no one really knows how to react.
"While it's tragic, there has to be a celebration of life. She was such a fantastic person that we don't want to lose that all," he said.
Chalk had been active in the Cincinnati Ballet and had performed in the production of the Nutcracker since 2013.
Ballet director Victoria Morgan said today in a statement:
"We are deeply saddened to lose Michelle who was a vibrant and beloved member of our young performers cast."
Administrators had grief counselors at Highlands High School for anyone who needed them.
The other teen in the hammock was not seriously hurt.