Kindness Creates a Special Speaker Opportunity for Sixth Graders
Posted 04/14/2017 03:22PM

What would you do if you suddenly lost a family member to violence? Would you react with anger? Perhaps withdraw into yourself? While these are perfectly normal parts of the grief process following such a horrible tragedy, recently our sixth graders heard from someone who also added a creative element to healing after the death of his brother.
Rick Williams (pictured above on the right) lost his brother John to a Seattle Police violence incident in 2010. A recent National Public Radio (NPR) segment, though, told the story anew and discussed Rick's community involvement following John's death. Anthony T. '23 heard the story one morning on the way to school and shared it with his humanities class. In response, the sixth graders crafted cards of condolence and sent them to Mr. Williams.
Williams was touched by the show of support from our students, and wanted to express his thanks in person as well as share more of his story.
The Williams family has a rich history of creating totem pole carvings. John was a skilled carver, and as the students who introduced Rick for his visit shared, "Carving was John's passion, and his whole family of 11 siblings all loved to carve too. He first learned to carve from his dad, who was part of the Ditidaht tribe from Vancouver Island."
In the wake of John's death, despite many calls for a violent response, Rick decided to honor John's memory by advocating for a memorial consisting of two tall totem poles at Seattle Center—and by encouraging different parts of the Seattle community to work more cooperatively with one another.
Thank you to Rick and our students for making this special visit a reality!