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Park View students plan to honor slain classmate

Shawn Gordley, left, and Jennea Gordley, center, parents of Caleb Gordley, accompanied by family and friends of Caleb Gordley, talk to members of the media outside their home in Sterling, Va., Tuesday, March 19, 2013. Police say Caleb Gordley, a Loudoun County teenager was shot and killed after he climbed into a neighbor's home through a back window. (Ann Heisenfelt/AP)

Days after 16-year-old Caleb Gordley was shot and killed after sneaking into a neighbor’s house, students at his Sterling school were planning how they would keep his memory alive.

Friends on the Park View High School football team said they wanted to write Caleb’s initials on their helmets. Some students wrote songs for him.

Monday morning, hundreds of classmates wrote messages to him and his family on a sheet of butcher paper stretched across the Loudoun County school’s gym.

“We will all miss you bro,” said one message. “Keep making your music up their [sic] #LongLivePrince,” one note said.

Caleb was a well-known athlete who played football, basketball and baseball. He was also a rapper known as Prince George.

He produced his own songs and talked about a career in music. He even rapped while playing basketball, said his coach Mike Koscinski.

“He had a beat, some kind of vibe going all the time,” his coach said. The team is planning to use his music somehow in their games and practices in the future.

Caleb’s life was cut short by what his family called a “mistake that turned into the ultimate tragedy.” The teen was grounded, but he sneaked out of the house Saturday night to go to a party. When he tried to sneak back in around 2:30 a.m. Sunday, Caleb, who had been drinking, mistakenly entered a house two doors down that looked similar to his. After climbing through a back window and setting off an alarm, the frightened homeowner shot him.

School officials say they try in many ways to teach teenagers to make responsible decisions and to call on adults if they feel they might be in danger— even if means they could get in trouble.

Park View principal Virginia Minshew said that this Friday, the school is conducting a previously scheduled ethics activity in which seniors will talk about how they would respond if they were at a party and they or their friends were drunk and needed to get home safely.

It’s a difficult lesson, said Loudoun schools spokesman Wayde Byard. “One mistake may be all you get.”

Michael Alison Chandler writes about schools and families in the Washington region.



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