Friends, family gather for candlelight vigil for OHS student Avery Green
Friends, family gather for candlelight vigil for OHS student Avery Green

Friends, family gather for candlelight vigil for OHS student Avery Green

Avery Green will be 14 forever – fierce and funny and a true friend – in the hearts of family and friends who gathered on Friday night at the Olney Gazebo to remember her precious and too few years among them.

Avery, a freshman at Olney High School. Her mother, Breanna Curnutte, said she was being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder when she took her own life on June 21 at her home in Olney.

“Every day we loved her. My main thing is nothing is ever that big … life gets better,” Ms. Curnutte said. “Being a teenager is hard in this town.” Her schoolmates said Avery was a frequent target of school bullies.

Jocelyn DeLira played in the OHS band with Avery, and remembered driving to Olney Lake last summer to practice music with Avery and other friends. Jocelyn said she saw Avery go through good days and bad days, when she was picked on by schoolmates. Alyson Hernandez also knew that “a lot of people did pick on her from things that happened in the past.”

The vigil was organized by Bree DeVries, whose son and Avery grew up “best friends,” she said. “There were 14 years of laughter and good times and fun,” she said.

Ms. DeVries provided books and index cards where Avery’s friends could write their favorite memories of her.

“I want to take a minute to speak to the youth here and remind you all that your life is worth more than just this moment,” she said. “That you matter and you have more people behind you than you can even imagine who love you and care for you and we want the best for you. So just remember: if you need to talk, if you’re feeling lost you have a huge community with a huge heart behind every one of you.”

As Chris Garcia as DJ Rad Dad played her favorite songs, her friends took turns at the microphone, reading out their best stories of Avery, or signing a memory book.

Maci McCarson, who was a grade above Avery, recalled dancing and singing along to their favorite songs. “She has the biggest smile and I would never think she would do something like this because she was always the happiest, smilingest person,” Maci said as she signed the memory book. “She was very sweet. I wish I knew she was going through something. I feel helpless.”

Valerie Hance said that whenever she was having a bad day, Avery was there to make things better. The two girls shared some classes, and would sit in the back of the room and laugh. “She gave the best hugs. I could tell her anything,” she said.

Conner Watson and Avery struck up a friendship in elementary school when she introduced herself on the playground and they discovered a mutual love of dinosaurs. Ayden Navarro said Avery was “a cool person” who enjoyed putting people together and introduced him to Conner, a fellow skater, when he moved to town. James Garcia said Avery “tried to help people out … and if she noticed you were hurt or upset she tried to comfort you.”

Chloe Church and her mother Haylie Hughes stood close together listening to the music and stories, and sharing quiet conversation. Avery was the first friend that Chloe made when she came to OISD from Fort Worth.

“She was one of the first people to talk to me and we became good friends after that,” Chloe said. She will most miss blasting music and screaming lyrics to songs like “You Belong with Me” by Taylor Swift with Avery.

Mrs. Hughes said she enjoyed having Avery around, and hopes that the school district will look into reports of bullying more thoroughly “and get it handled.”

After listening to all the stories, Mrs. Curnette said “everybody got it right” about her daughter.

“She was a fierce little girl and she would stand between anybody for the right thing,” she said. “She stood up for the underdog and she was a lot of these kids’ first friends when they got here to Olney. She had a huge smile, huge laughter because she wanted to make people laugh and it didn’t matter how much trouble she got into to make them laugh.”