Nantucket High School Gathers To Remember Christopher Alexander Arevalo Lemus

Jason Graziadei •

Nantucket High School students laid flowers at the site of the crash Monday evening. Photo by Kit Noble

Nantucket High School students gathered Monday to remember Christopher Alexander Arevalo Lemus, 17, the boy who tragically died Saturday night in a car crash on Bartlett Road. 

Students organized a vigil outside the high school Monday morning as well as another gathering at the site of the crash Monday evening to share a moment of silence, leave behind flowers, as well as stories and anecdotes about their classmate whose life was cut short.

"This was about grieving for him," said Samraj Khatri, one of the students who helped organize the vigil. "This had nothing to do with the school, it was strictly about Chris. The administration appreciated and fully respected this gesture. It was simply the community coming together." 

Christopher Alexander Arevalo Lemus

The Current spoke with Father Carlos Patiño Villa at St. Mary’s church Monday afternoon who was with Arevalo Lemus' mother. They shared a photo of him and said the church is working to help raise funds to bring Christopher back to El Salvador. Father Carlos told us anyone who would like to contribute can leave money at several places around town where businesses are helping the family collect funds, including the Trading Post, Salvadoreña Food & Market, and Casa Real. People may also contact Father Carlos directly, or contribute to a GoFundMe page that has been set up on behalf of the family.

At the high school Monday morning, students left flowers on the baseball diamond and emphasized that the gathering had been led by the students. 

"Please remember the students were the ones who came up with this idea," NHS student Alice Santos told the Current. "Each grade talked to their classmates on their own grade group chat and organized everything last night since the school didn’t. We all decided to have a peaceful and silent walkout at 8:15 a.m. Everyone gathered together and had about an hour of silence and it was also an opportunity for those to speak up and share kind things to say about him. It was nice of the staff members and teachers to join, but the students were the ones who planned everything! The majority of seniors and juniors decided to leave school after and some sophomores and freshmen decided to also leave to show respect towards Chris and his family, but some stayed too."

Photo by Kit Noble
Photo by Kit Noble
Students gathered at the Nantucket High School baseball field early Monday morning for a vigil to remember their classmate. Photo by Kit Noble
Photo by Kit Noble
Photo by Kit Noble
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Photo by Kit Noble
Photo by Kit Noble
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"He was in my wood shop class he was a funny guy and really shy," said former NHS student Stephany Zavala, who graduated last year. "He was really nice to everyone and it is really sad that we had to lose him. But I love that everyone at school came together today to remember him."

In a message to families on Sunday, Nantucket Public Schools superintendent Beth Hallett stated "We are aware of how painful this is with such a short time between this tragedy and the loss of other individuals from our school community. We understand how difficult the next few days and weeks will be as we process yet another heartbreak for our NPS family."

The schools had counselors and a mobile crisis unit available to students and staff on the Surfside Road campus on Monday as part of its plan to help the school community process and grieve the loss of their classmate.

Hallett said her team considered canceling classes on Monday for the high school - as they did following the tragic death of student Baxter Waldman in December 2022 - but opted to keep the school in session based on lessons learned from the response to that incident.

"After much reflection and deliberation, we have decided that it is best to keep school open tomorrow (Monday, March 18)," Hallett wrote. "We understand that this plan differs from the student tragedy that befell us in December of 2022. We learned from that tragedy that it is best for students and staff to be in school, follow familiar routines, and seek support from counselors, staff, and peers in a safe place...We know that the best way to move forward is to continue with daily schedules while also allowing space and time for whomever is in need to process and grieve in their own way."

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