As a community newspaper, we often get the privilege of seeing the accomplishments of our area's students that other forms of media do not. However, during times of tragedy, we share in the community's sense of loss when one of those bright stars unexpectedly goes out.

Last week, the communities of Banquete and Robstown mourned the loss of 17-year-old Celeste Velasquez. While I do not presume to write as if I knew her, because I did not, speaking with her softball coach and other educators who did has allowed me to feel a sense of loss that I know is infinitely greater for those who were closest to her.

But one thing that struck me was the outpouring of support by her fellow students that is meant to honor Celeste's memory. Students created a makeshift memorial in front of Banquete High School, whose hallways and classrooms Celeste walked and sat in to further her education.

As a member of the junior varsity softball team, she had goals of moving up to varsity next year, as well as eventually moving on to college after high school

Tragically, those goals will forever remain unattained, leaving many, I am sure, to question how life can be so cruel.

But students who knew Celeste have chosen not to question such things. Life is full of unexplained occurrences. Events often unfold for which there is no justifiable reason, and questions sometimes are never answered.

Celeste's fellow students have chosen to honor their fallen classmate. In addition to the makeshift memorial, her coach, teammates and the varsity team wore their jerseys to her funeral on Saturday.

Celeste's coach, William Holmes, ran the idea by her mother first to make sure it would be OK. During a recent interview, he said Celeste's mother told him that was what Celeste would have wanted.

Grief counselors from areas all around and outside of Nueces County offered to help the students deal with their grief.

But Alena Garza, who is a counselor at Banquete High School, said recently that the students have been handling the death of a fellow classmate with surprising strength. That is probably a testament to their decision to focus on Velasquez's memory, rather than how she died.

There is even talk of creating a memorial at the softball field in honor of Velasquez, but those plans are in the very early stages of discussion. Assistance from those in the community may be needed to achieve such a task, as well.

Holmes also told the story of how a young man who had thought about dropping out of school changed his mind after talking recently with Velasquez.

And even though she may not be able to watch him cross the stage in the future, he will no doubt remember whose words that helped him to achieve that goal.

I can only hope that in this time of grief, Velasquez's family can take solace in the fact that she was able to impact so many lives in her short time in this world.

Tim Olmeda is the news editor for the Nueces County Record Star. Readers may contact him via e-mail at