Blacksburg community mourns in the wake of Blacksburg students deaths

A vigil was held Saturday at Blacksburg High School

BLACKSBURG, VA – The Blacksburg community is grieving after the loss of two Blacksburg High School students.

A vigil was held at Blacksburg High School on Saturday with a focus on healing.

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”Take a breath... take a deep breath,” one Blacksburg pastor said to mourners Saturday.

Words of prayer, heartbreak and community were at the heart of Saturday’s vigil.

The vigil comes after the death of teenagers, Serenity Hawley and Croney Monk.

”We have to be strong, and we have to move forward,” community leader Penny Franklin said.

Blacksburg Police Chief Todd Brewster spoke about how crucial community is during a time of uncertainty and grief.

”Community is about more than belonging to something. It’s about doing something together that makes belonging matter. We will get through this as a community, not as individuals,” Brewster said.

10 News spoke with Serenity Hawley’s father John, who attended the vigil. He said he was in awe of people keeping her memory alive.

”Watching people pay attention and do the things on social media just to honor her, it’s my privilege to see it,” Hawley said.

The vigil featured speakers and resources to help with grief.

”Those are the emotions, you know, you’re fine and then you’re not,” Hawley said.

The teens’ untimely deaths place a focus on mental health.

”Until our country says from the very tip-top, ‘We need to treat mental health as importantly as we treat medical health,’” Hawley said.

Hawley just wants his daughter to know he’s proud.

”I’m proud of her. I’m proud of the legacy she leaves; I’m proud of the friends she made; I’m proud of really everything she’s ever done. She never did anything halfway,” Hawley said.

Resources for mental health and domestic violence can be found below:

Resources for children and young adults dealing with feelings of grief can be found below:

About the Author

Abbie Coleman officially joined the WSLS 10 News team in January 2023.

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