A photograph of Steven Slaughter, taken at age 13, on his mother's cellphone. (Bonnie Jo Mount/Washington Post)

The stark, accurate depiction in the Jan. 18 Metro article "Pleas for help to solve teen's slaying disrupted by a shooting" cast deep, dark shock and sadness. The 14-year-old killed, Steven Slaughter, was an integral part of his school family, which is my school family. As the proud Ninth Grade Academy director at Friendship Collegiate Academy Public Charter School, which Steven attended, I know a side of urban education that doesn't often make headlines. We hear about troubling truancy, chronic absenteeism, grading inconsistencies, the widening achievement gap. Granted, those issues are worth study, analysis and action. Yet to find joy in sorrow would be to see how Steven's senseless death has unmasked the resiliency, compassion, love and heartfelt connections that weave between our students and the devoted teachers, counselors, administrators, cafeteria ladies, staff and coaches who celebrate our kids' lives.

Let's embrace Steven's memory to honor him and, in turn, all Ward 7 students by recognizing that their light always shines bright, even in the darkest hours.

Lauren Johnson, Arlington