Missing classmates felt as Greenbrier High returns

As Greenbrier High School students streamed into the Evans school for the first day of classes this morning, two seniors were missing.

Chris Smith, of Evans, drowned July 18 while swimming in Thurmond Lake. The 17-year-old was expected to start for the Wolfpack football team and is missed by his teammates.

“Especially at football practice,” said junior Beau Allen, 16, describing his former teammate as always upbeat. “You know he’s not there.”

Haley Van Pelt spent what should have been the first day of her senior year at Medical College of Georgia Hospital, where she is in serious condition.

Senior Nikki Koulianos, 17, said is was strange to go about her daily routines and attend the first day of school without the fellow member of the Greenbrier marching band.

“It has definitely affected like a lot of our senior class,” Nikki said.

Haley, 17, also of Evans, wrecked her car on Hardy McManus Road on July 22. After running off the road while on her way to band camp, the clarinet player overslammed her Saturn into a large pine tree, police said.

Band director Michael Katterjohn said that the last part of band camp was tough after hearing of the wreck but that her bandmates kept Haley on their minds.

“As long as we keep the kids up on her progress, what is happening with her, they are doing OK with that,” Mr. Katterjohn said.

At a recent rehearsal, the musicians took a photo of the band, blew it up to poster size and sent it the hospital for Haley. Like her church and classmates, band members have supported her family by providing meals and raising money for her treatment.

Mr. Katterjohn said he hopes she will be able to perform with the band before the season is over.

“We leaving her spot open,” Mr. Katterjohn said of the clarinet section leader. “We’re praying she comes back.”

Freshman Sara Pasma, 14, said she feels strange doing normal activities such as attending the first day of school while her marching bandmate recovering in the hospital.

“My sister is one of her best friends, and knowing the fact that she doesn’t have her here today at school, I feel kind of bad,” Sara said.

Reach Valerie Rowell at (706) 868-1222, ext. 110, or valerie.rowell@augustachronicle.com.

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Spotted: Greenbrier High Back to School

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