“Tonight you could definitely still see the grief people still have, almost as when it happened,” said Jashawn Johnson, a junior, after two hours of events at the 4445 S. Drexel Ave. school to commemorate Pendleton’s life.
After school, students gathered in the auditorium for almost two hours of poetry, music and other remembrances of the 15-year-old sophomore who was shot and killed in Vivian Gordon Harsh Park last year.
According to a program, teacher Eric Young read a poem titled “A Kaleidoscope of Hope,” the school choir sang “Take Me to the King,” and the volleyball team players shared memories of their former teammate.
Pendleton’s parents and other family members were in the audience.
“Right now, my entire family is still dealing with the fact that she is not with us,” said cousin Shaira Wilks.
Many students chose to attend the events, but a portion decided to leave after the final bell and think about Pendleton in private.
“To have it continually coming back to me is really hard,” said senior Rachel King.
King said the grief that swept the school last year became palpable again Wednesday and she was choosing not to attend the ceremonies.
Principal David Narain chose to keep the event private and did not allow media inside the school.
Walking past a row of television news cameras in front of the school, King said she was uncomfortable that so much of the media attention was centered around death.
Pfleger echoed the King’s discomfort with the attention after the event.
“We had national attention on this, but we’ve drifted asleep, it’s almost like we had our 15 minutes of attention for this and people moved on,” Pfleger said.
Pfleger said he attended the events at the request of Pendleton’s family.
The family held a smaller, private gathering at their home Wednesday night with relatives and close friends of Hadiya on hand to eat, drink and celebrate the 15-year-old girl's life.
The park where Pendleton was shot was empty on Wednesday except for a few rabbit tracks in the snow.