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  • December 8If you are interested in track and field, join us at a meeting on Tues 12/12 in the Wilson gym @ lunch time
  • December 8AG Fact Friday: Some reindeer have red vessels in their noses, which turns their nose red like Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer!
  • December 8Saints band will be holding their first concert of the year today @6:30pm at Ethel Pope! Tickets are $5 each
  • December 8Go buy food and other cool things at the Winter fair today!
  • December 5Come to the last FBLA meeting of the year Dec. 7 @ lunch in Room 230
  • December 5The December theme at the Wellness Center is "Coping Skills." Join us during lunch for the workshop on Wednesday 12/6
  • December 4Congrats to Saints boys varsity basketball team for their win over PV on Saturday 80-50
  • December 4Interested in swimming? Join girls and boys swimming during lunch on 12/6 in room 134. No experience necessary!
  • December 4Las Comadres y Compadres Club will be hosting a sock drive in the following drop off locations: room 230, room 232, admin front office, and admin east wing
  • December 4Attention Migrant Education Program students: Want to learn how to communicate with confidence? Join us during lunch12/5 room 202

The Breeze

The Breeze

    SMHS Teachers Reflect on How a Student’s Death Has Impacted Them

    The loss of a vibrant young student is memorialized through remembering and grieving through conversations with her teachers.
    Annie’s desk before it was moved to new building in Ms. Clabough’s old classroom. The desk is covered with flowers and notes from students and loved ones. Photo Credits to Ms. Clabough

    Annie Villegas, a Junior at the time of her death, passed away toward the end of last school year on the morning of April 5th, 2023. The day prior, (According to her teacher, Ms. Hannah Clabough) she had worn her favorite color, blue.

    Annie transferred from PVHS the year prior and included herself in the community of SMHS. She was known to always have a smile on her face. Her funeral took place on April 20th, 2023. On June 1st, 2023, Ms. Clabough organized an invent for Annie at the gravesite where friends and family gathered to remember her.

    A picture of Annie’s gravesite decorated with love.
    Photo credits to Ms. Clabough.

    Her English teacher, Ms. Clabough, grew very close to Annie and was very impacted by her death.  She stated, “She had a big personality. She went by Annie, not Melani (her birth name). I knew she was a complicated person, but she always came to school with a smile on her face. I always let her warm up her Cup of Noodles in my class. She was just friendly to everybody.”

    Ms. Clabough met Annie when she had her as a student in her English class in 2022/2023. She had received the news about her passing the morning after before her class. “She was going through some personal problems. It was really hard to deal with (Annie’s death); we all miss her presence. I attended her funeral, seeing students there mourning someone their age was difficult. We all supported each other.” She also said, “I would rather be at school with my students who care than be at home. We cried together, shared together. I kept her desk, hid it at my parents home this summer. She changed my life and I’m so grateful that I met someone like her, and that our paths crossed.”

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    Ms. Clabough continues to commemorate Annie by keeping her old desk in her new classroom in the new building, in room 127.

    Annie’s desk that is kept in Ms. Clabough’s classroom in the new building.
    Photo Credits to Ms. Clabough.
    A polaroid picture of Annie and her English teacher Ms. Clabough
    Photo Credits to Ms. Clabough.
    Notes on Annie’s desk from friends and loved ones.
    Photo credits to Ms. Clabough.

    Ms. Greene’s 2022-2023 art class chose to commemorate Annie by making hearts along side the gate by the staff parking lot (where the 500s building stood before). She said, “I had some students help so it’s more of a collaborative piece to remember Annie. For me it was more about making the art vs. the long impact, more about the process. It was kind of therapeutic, meditative.” Ms. Greene gave most of Annie’s art work to her family after her funeral, “It was really hard. She was the first student that I had that passed away; it was hard to carry on class without her. It made a big impact on me and few of her friends. We just have to carry on I guess. Annie was just so sweet and so energetic; she had a lot of energy.” 

    “I know she was very important to her friends, she made a big impact in their lives, she was very funny… One time I called her by her real name (Melani) and she hated it, she definitely wanted to called and remembered as Annie. We miss her.”

    — Ms. Greene

    Ms. Greene mentioned that Annie didn’t want to be remembered as Melani Villegas but as Annie. “I know she was very important to her friends; she made a big impact in their lives. She was very funny. One time I called her by her real name (Melani) and she hated it she definitely wanted to called and remembered as Annie. We miss her.”

    Yarn hearts created by Ms. Greene’s 2022-2023 art class in commemoration to Annie Villegas.
    Photo credits to Aileen Salto

    She truly left a mark on anyone that had a conversation with her. Losing her has been immensely painful, but she lives in many hearts and is very loved!”

    — Valerie Gomez

    Valerie Gomez was close to Annie and knew her since they were sat together in Ms. Clabough’s English 3 class. Valerie described her laugh to be contagious and that Annie had this ability to brighten up any room she entered, “Annie was full of love and joy. She always had something nice to say and always made people laugh. Annie was such a bright light and always had a smile on her face. She truly left a mark on anyone that had a conversation with her. Losing her has been immensely painful, but she lives in many hearts and is very loved!”

    Note from the author: In an effort to get more interviews for this story, I contacted Annie’s Math teacher and Wrestling Coach. Both responded with not wanting to be interviewed because of the sensitive topic. As I worked through this story, I found that Annie brought a lot of people together and impacted their lives drastically. I couldn’t sit through an interview without having tears coming from the interviewee. Although I didn’t personally know Annie, I feel as she was someone important to this community and will continue to be for years to come. My dearest condolences to Annie’s family, friends, and loved ones.

    The cause of death was ruled an accidental fentanyl overdose. Fentanyl overdoses are a leading cause of death all over the United States and, sadly, it has lead to our schools too. Just in 2022 there have been 6,095 fentanyl overdoses in California. This is excluding any other type of overdose. You can find Overdoses in California Here.


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    About the Contributor
    Hey! My name is Oswaldo Hernandez-Perez, but you can call me Waldo. This is my last year at Santa Maria High School as I am now a senior. I enjoy listening to music and filming my friends skating on my free time. I haven't written anything too promising lately, but I am excited to write a lot about our community and school this year. I feel confident that I will be able to contribute to the breeze in a helpful manner. I have experience in filming and I would love to interview people about their thoughts on our community. I am currently taking journalism because I am interested in writing stories and informing others on news and whatnot. I feel honored to be a part of The Breeze this year. I appreciate Mrs. Van D for giving me a third chance to one of her many classes lmao.  
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    • R

      Rodrigo GarciaNov 15, 2023 at 10:13 am

      Nice work Oswaldo

    • R

      Rebecca Lynn MilesNov 13, 2023 at 1:46 pm

      WOW!!! What a beautiful story; thank you so much for sharing this with our school. Truly heart-warming!