Written by Don Ratzlaff Wednesday, 16 January 2008 10:18
| Lance Selznic
The breadth of his impact far exceeded the length of his acquaintance.
Centre High School classmates, teaches and staff fondly remembered senior Lance Selznick in special gatherings and hallway conversations Thursday, Friday and over the weekend.
Selznick, a senior in his first year at Centre, died Wednesday night of injuries sustained in a two-vehicle accident involving three other Centre High students at a rural intersection near Burdick late Wednesday afternoon.
Two of the students, Andy Carlson, a senior, and Brandon Peterson, a junior, were treated and released. The fourth student, Stephen Kaiser, a sophomore, is receiving treatment for his injuries at a Wichita hospital.
Selznick and Kaiser had been airlifted to the Wichita because of their injuries.
Jeri Kemble, superintendent, said the Centre school and community has been deeply affected by Selznick’s death, even though he had moved to the district this past summer for his senior year.
“That boy touched their lives in so many positive ways,” Kemble said Friday. “He had given them the gifts of caring, kindness, looking beyond what someone looks like, and caring about kids no matter who they were.
“They were talking today about how they can pay that forward and make sure they don’t lose that lesson in their life.
“It’s been incredible.”
Selznick moved to to this area from Simi Valley, Calif., to live with his father and stepmother, Dan and Karen Selznick of Lincolnville.
It didn’t take long for him to be embraced by his new school mates, Kemble said.
“One of the things almost everyone mentioned was that he always made them smile,” Kemble said of the young man who was given the nickname “Sunshine” by one of his teachers.
“They talked about the bright clothes he would wear and that he was not afraid to be an individual and to be different,” Kemble said.
“One of them said, ‘You know, I think there was a plan that Lance was supposed to come to Centre so we could see what else there is outside of here.’”
When school officials received notice of Selznick’s death, Kemble said they assembled a crisis team that included counselors from Centre and two area school districts, three pastors and the school social worker.
Faculty were briefed by the crisis team the next morning on how to respond to grieving students. The students were invited to meet with team members to talk about their feelings.
“The crisis team was available all day,” Kemble said. “By noon, the seniors had requested a meeting with the crisis team. We met with them and that was probably one of the most productive parts of the day.
“It was very healing. That’s when they created a book (of personal reflections) for Lance’s parents and talked about how they can remember him. That was very powerful. Many of them said, ‘That really helped me,’ by the end of the day.”
A memorial service for Selznick was held Sunday in the high school gym, were he had spent many hours the past few months as the manager for the boys’ basketball team.
“He was very close to all the boys,” Kemble said. “He would sit in a special spot in the gym to videotape the ball games. Today, we had about nine students who just congregated in that spot because that’s where they felt comfortable.”
For the funeral, the senior class asked to present a floral arrangement to honor their classmate.
“He was famous for these orange pants that he’d wear that were bright and colorful,” Kemble said. “So the kids decided they would have 32 yellow carnations to represent them and the sunshine that he spread.
“In the middle of that they wanted to have one big, bright orange rose that represented him because he was a student who wasn’t afraid to be an individual. They amazed me.”
Kemble said Selznick’s classmates hope to honor his memory for years to come.
“At graduation they would really like to have an award in his honor,” Kemble said. “They want it to be given to someone who represented the good character traits he showed: kindness, standing up for others, always smiling, always having a good attitude, and being a friend to anyone.”