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Mountain Crest HS community copes with teacher’s death

December 7th, 2013 Posted in Opinion

By Addison M.T. Hall

HYRUM — Larry Litizzette, an award-winning teacher at Mountain Crest High School, was killed last weekend while on a duck hunting trip with his son. Students and faculty now try to maintain their composure while remembering what a great man he was.

Litizzette was hit by a train while walking along the tracks in Spanish Fork Canyon, authorities say. He fell 20 feet down into a river and his son pulled him out shortly after. Investigators hasn’t yet been able to tell what killed him, whether it was the train, the fall or possibly drowning in the river.

Litizzette left behind a wife and three sons, several classes of AP Biology students and a faculty he’d worked with for over 20 years.

Gary Thomas, assistant principal at the school, said the school hired four “roaming substitutes” for any teacher who needed time to think, and extra counselors to help the students and teachers cope with the loss. He said Litizzette’s class had been run by another teacher in his place and the school’s goal was to keep the students moving forward.

“We pulled a teacher next door, another science teacher,” Thomas said. “She wrote some lesson plans for her class and then she took over Mr. Litizzette’s class today. And then we’ve had a couple counselors down there to greet every class as they’d come in, and we’ve also had an administrator come down there to greet every class and spend the first 10 to 15, however many minutes they need, to talk things through and discuss it with them.” Thomas said after the students speak with the counselors and administration, they are immediately assigned to a regular work day in order to keep their minds occupied.

Principal Robert Henke said the students are far from forgetting the tragedy but are using it as an opportunity to band together. Henke said the students sent a mass text message out to everyone they could in order to get people to dress their best Monday out of respect for Litizzette. He said the students were making several small posters to put in his classroom and one large banner to hang on the school.

Students weren’t the only ones feeling the loss.

“We met extra early this morning as a faculty and there were a lot of tears shed,” Henke said. “Usually they’re all laughing and joking around before we start and today was just pretty quiet. Really the whole school’s just been kind of somber and quiet and not the same level of energy that we’ve had.”

Henke said that after 29 years of dedicated service to the 31-year-old school, Litizzette would not be easily forgotten. He said there currently aren’t plans for a full memorial service for Litizzette because the school wants to respect the privacy of his family.


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