St. Johns County high schools unite to honor fallen students
Over past 7 months, 2 school lose 4 students to tragedies
Usually when Menendez High School and St. Augustine High School meet on the basketball court, it's in heated rivalry.
On Friday night, the Falcons and Yellow Jackets joined together in front of a sold-out crowd for the the teams and fans to honor the four classmates -- two from each school -- who have died over the past seven months.
Players and fans joined together, not as opposing schools, but as St. Augustine residents dealing with a lot of pain.
"In the past year Pedro Menendez and St. Augustine have lost some of their best and brightest students," said St. Augustine High School Athletic Director Jeff Holland.
Menendez seniors Ryan Ford and Jerad Revels died in the past week -- Revels in an accident on his family farm and Ford beaten to death at a party. St. Augustine students Mark Ochkie Jr. and Scott Milton died in separate motorcycle crashes last summer.
Before the game started Friday night, students, teachers and parents remembered the kids who were no longer there. Hundreds bowed their heads in a moment of silence.
"It makes us proud to be there and how well kids come together like tonight, wearing white and ribbons and showing their support, it's been a real family at Menendez," said Holli Winter, Dean at Menendez High School.
At Friday's game, students held signs to remember their fallen friends and said prayers for them and their families.
Before Friday night's game, Ford's friends and family gathered around a bonfire in his family's backyard. Ford died from injuries after being beaten at a bonfire.
"Actually, it helps a lot," said Ford's friend Jonathan Pittman. "It's what we do every Friday night. Five or six of us, will just sit out here and have a fire."
Ford's mother said Friday night's bonfire memorial would have been exactly what Ryan wanted.
"Wanted some of his friends over here tonight just to do this," said Linda Ford. "This is what Ryan would have wanted to do, and I know he's looking down on us now, and I think he thinks this is pretty cool."
Copyright 2013 by News4Jax.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.