Wesleyan Christian Community Overcoming Tragedy Through Faith
BARTLESVILLE, Oklahoma - For Wesleyan Christian School students in Bartlesville, Monday was a day to cry and a day to laugh.
Two days after one of their classmates died, students and staff came together to move forward. The Wesleyan family is hoping to use faith and togetherness in this tough time.
There was no class Monday at Wesleyan Christian, but all day students and staff grieved with each other.
They said it has been a sad couple of days, but looking back at Ben Hamm’s energy and fun personality helps a lot.
"He definitely brought light to all the conversations; and anyone he was with, you really just felt alive," said Ben’s friend, Nathan Budan.
A serious head injury, sustained in a football game, sent Ben to the hospital just over a week ago; he died early Saturday morning.
Ben’s friend, Sydney Frederick said, "We know goodbye is not the end."
While fellow students grieve, they are comforted by memories of Ben’s high-power personality.
“He had the most energy. Like, in off-season, we would put on the Rocky Balboa song, you know, the ‘da, da, da,’ and me and him would just start going crazy, getting everyone fired up to work. He always danced to the Rocky Balboa song,” Sam Phillips remembered.
The private Christian school is a small one - fewer than 20 students, including Ben, make up the 11th-grade class, and only a couple hundred people on campus altogether.
School leaders, like lead pastor Joe Colaw, hope to bring people even closer through grief counseling.
"Let them own up to their emotions because there are real emotions struggling in this process, and we want them to be able to work through this in a healthy manner," he said.
Colaw said, for many of the kids, this is the first time they've experienced death; and now is not a time to run from the topic, but face it.
He said, "So, we've even said to teachers, you know, one of the things you can do when you open the class is, ‘Alright, how many of you remember something funny Ben has done?’ and to laugh, cause that's cathartic for us."
His friends said, together, they'll laugh and lean on faith as they press on.
"I really do miss him. But one thing is really comforting, he had a really strong faith and so I know I will definitely see him again in Heaven,” Phillips said.
The school superintendent said Ben's father was at the school to talk to Ben's teammates. He reassured them it's OK to make this moment a good one because that's what Ben would want.
The team's next game is Friday.
Ben's jersey number was 28, so they plan to paint the 28-yard line in Ben's honor.